Tuesday 4 March 2014

Acquaintances - Acquaintances

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com

The story of this band begins with Chris Wilson, drummer with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, hooking up with longtime friend Justin Sinkovich of the band The Poison Arrows as they were passing through Chicago. A seed was sown as both were interested in making more music. Soon they'd recruited friends and other band members (including players with The Ponys and Thumbnail) and ideas had been recorded and passed around the group. And so it began: Acquaintances by name, acquaintances by nature. Before long they had an album, recorded in Justin's basement studio, a setting that's been used by several well-known names for recording and post-production. The resulting eponymous album was released on limited edition last summer, and drew enough attention to warrant a full release last month.

Given the folk involved, you may expect garage-rock to be the order of the day, and there are times where this is true. The most obvious example is perhaps the three-minute blast of 'Say All The Right Things', and final track 'Thinking We Are Done Here' is in much the same vein, but even though this album doesn't exactly throw up many surprises, it does vary a little. Garage and psych often go hand-in-hand, and the slightly urgent and trippy 'Learn To Let Go' is a good example, while 'She Never Sleeps' could have been a cover of a much older song, although it sounds thoroughly current here, with a great guitar sound. 'This Night Is A Trick' offers us a highlight, and helps keep you engaged. Also sounding a little acid-fried, albeit on a darker level, is 'Bachelor's Grove' which blends psych with fuzz-rock to great effect; there's definite single potential for this one. 'Ghosts' is another that will likely stick in the memory more than most after those initial couple of plays, especially for fans of drone-rock.

Really though, you need look no further than excellent opening track 'Paramounts' to know that 'Acquaintances' is rooted in post-punk, and all of the songs mentioned above follow in its wake to a certain extent. It's a very solid album, but maybe you'd expect that given the experienced personnel. It could be argued that a touch more diversity wouldn't go amiss, but that never stopped AC/DC becoming one of the biggest selling bands of all time. It's probably more a case that if you like one song, you'll like them all, because quality control is kept high. The distortion used on 'Skin' or the sludgy 'Got It Covered' offer a little variation, and the vocals on both have the haunting quality of the goth bands that grew from the same scene as post-punk. Don't be fooled into believing them when they say 'Lower Your Expectations, Increase Your Odds', because you can have high expectations of this track that could be the best on the whole record. Solid, consistent, enjoyable. Let's hope they meet up for another jam before too long.

Acquaintances' website

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