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At Crystal Palace

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Album Review

Erase Errata's second album, At Crystal Palace, continues the band's ongoing flirtations with order and chaos, ping-ponging between the two with such ease that it's clear that even their most disjointed moments are under their control. Songs such as "Driving Test" and "Go to Sleep" are as angular and tense as ever — the way Jenny Hoyston snarls "Go to sleep!" on the latter ensures a string of nights spent with eyes wide open — but every now and then the band lets down its avant-garde and allows some melodic, and even poppy, moments to exist within its formidably sharp music. "Ca. Viewing" is one of Erase Errata's most accessible songs, at once prickly and playful. Meanwhile, "Let's Be Active c/o Club Hott" and "Surprize It's Easter" are both slightly more melodic than their earlier work; Hoyston's vocals come closer to honest-to-goodness singing than they have before, even though both songs feature strange breakdowns where most bands would put choruses. Hoyston's paranoid, soulful wailing on "Matter No Medley" marks a further expansion of the band's sound; she remains one of the most distinctive voices in underground rock, androgynous and fiercely powerful without resorting to histrionics, particularly on "Owls" and "Retreat! The Most Familiar." Hoyston's trumpet also makes a few more appearances on At Crystal Palace than it did on Other Animals, but the most musically remarkable thing about the album may be the heavy basslines that drive it. Even more so than on their previous work, here Erase Errata's music is about a groove, even if their version of a groove is closer to a zigzag. The mechanical sexuality of "Ease On Over" lies in large part to a frenetic but kinetic bottom end; ditto the danceable politics of "A Thief Detests the Criminal, Elements of the Ruling Class." If possible, At Crystal Palace feels even more urgent than Erase Errata's debut. Most of the time this is to their benefit — witness the breathless intensity of the spiky, minute-long "Harvester" — but occasionally, the pace feels rushed and fewer songs stand out as a result. Still, At Crystal Palace's compressed complexity makes it a more consistent album, as well as proof that the band shows no signs of slowing down or mellowing out anytime soon.

Biography

Formed: 1999

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The music of Erase Errata has been compared to such eclectic experimentalists as Captain Beefheart, the Minutemen, and the Dog Faced Hermans, due to the fact that the group possess an uncanny knack of improvising on the spot (claiming that they could improvise a whole set if pressed to). Originally comprised of members Jenny Hoyston (vocals and trumpet), Ellie Erickson (bass), Bianca Sparta (drums), and Sara Jaffe (guitar), Erase Errata formed in San Francisco in December of 1999, when the group...
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At Crystal Palace, Erase Errata
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