Saturday, January 07, 2006

Call Me Lightning

Call Me Lightning - The Trouble We're In - Revelation Records

Call Me Lightning are a dance-punk outfit from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That's pretty much all there is to say about the band, and that in itself is a good and bad thing at the same time.

After first listening to The Trouble We're In, the one obvious comparison to draw is to the Talking Heads. Their influence is clearly heard in the vocal stylings of Call Me Lightning, and this is a welcome change to the many new-wave bands whose singers are polished-up Robert Smith impostors. No, Call Me Lightning are not like the Killers, and you can now rest a little easier because of it. On the same token, the vocals on this album are so extreme and flamboyant at times that it takes away from the song(see: Blood Brothers). The incessant wailing tends to take away from the songs at times. I think if the bands singer found a good balance between the wailing and actual singing, the band would be in stellar shape.

Another aspect of this album worth discussing is the lyrics. Call Me Lightning's lyrics set them apart from the new wave/dance punk pack because they don't talk about girls, and they don't talk about wallowing in depression, and they don't talk about any of the other cliche topics that their contemporaries tend to dwell on. They talk about ghosts, dragons, getting high, young entrepreneurship, and, obviously, lightning. I think it's safe to say that the members of Call Me Lightning know their way around a Dungeons and Dragons map, but we won't count that against them. They have a fresh and original take on things, and that is one of their best qualities.

This album is extremely dance-able (is that a real word?) with most songs being fairly uptempo. A fat bass tone helps lock in the groove with the drummer. Some of the bands songs remind me of music from the CastleVania video game, namely "Ghosts in The Mirror" and "Ghouls". You can't help tapping your foot when you listen to this band, and I suppose that in a live setting the crowd would probably really dig them, but this isn't captured so well on disc. The guitar tone has a little too much treble for my taste, and the drums sound way too open, almost as if this were a Steve Albini recording (Note: I am anti-Albini). The vocals are mixed so that they have a very close sound, which makes the band seem sort of distant, almost like a karaoke track.

Overall, this album is a good effort. It has its high points of dance-punk glory, and it has its low points of overindulgence, repetitiveness, and likeness to video game soundtracks (or is that a high-point in disguise?). It is however, a solid release and hopefully the band develops their sound further and comes back with a stronger release next time around.



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