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A Place to Bury Strangers

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Album Review

From the opening blast of overdriven guitars and hyperkinetic drums it's apparent A Place to Bury Strangers, self-described "loudest band in New York," want to pummel you into submission with their unique take on white noise-derived guitar splendor, but then a hypnotic single-string riff takes over to briefly deliver a respite from the assault, recalling the classic era of shoegaze. The swirling atmosphere of guitar feedback and reverb-drenched vocals immediately bring to mind the most obvious comparison: vintage Jesus and Mary Chain. And while the Mary Chain circa Psychocandy evoked the Beach Boys on bad acid or the the Shirelles gigging poolside at the Manson family compound, A Place to Bury Strangers also evoke a host of noisy early-'90s British bands like My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Ride, Chapterhouse, Pale Saints, and the Catherine Wheel without sounding exactly like any of them. These bands knew how to cloak their essentially straightforward and anthemic rock songs in layers upon layers of guitar effects to lend an air of psychedelia and psychosis to what without that noisy dressing would strip down to candy-coated pop confections. And what A Place to Bury Strangers indeed do is write pop songs, with simple, traditional arrangements, primarily in slightly menacing minor keys, and saturated with their own unique brand of sonic mayhem. This is facilitated by the fact that their guitarist/singer designs his own effects pedals at his day job, allowing for a trademark-able and wide variety of signature bombastic sounds (he also does custom work for illustrious members of other similarly minded space rockers). Many songs, like the obvious single "To Fix the Gash in Your Head," feature a pile-driving drum machine enhancement which adds to the multiple layers and recalls a time when dark dream pop (Curve, Slowdive, the Telescopes) and dancefloor-friendly goth rock (Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, early New Order) were club mainstays. And aside from the lone doom-laden ballad "The Falling Sun," these songs are actually danceable. Or perhaps moshable, at the proper volume. The majority of the album keeps up the frenetic onslaught with which it opens, and even amongst the caustic thrash and thick slabs of sonic detritus there is an exhilaration, a catharsis, a beauty in the cacophony, and the listener is happily buried in the ear-splitting bliss. Many albums' liner notes suggest the listener should "PLAY THIS LOUD", but in this case it's never been more essential.


Formed: Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Drawing inspiration from shoegaze, classic indie rock, and atmospheric and dark sounds of all stripes, the Brooklyn-based A Place to Bury Strangers is the project of Oliver Ackermann and a rotating cast of support players. Forming out of the ashes of the like-minded Skywave, the band's original lineup featured Ackermann, Jay Space, and Jono Mofo. Taking a darker, heavier, and more experimental approach than Skywave, the trio made a splash in 2006, recording and playing gigs with Read Yellow, Bravo...
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A Place to Bury Strangers, A Place to Bury Strangers
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