Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: The Republic Tigers – Keep Color

Don’t let first appearances spoil the Republic Tigers’ debut cd for you. Sure, the Kansas City band could use a stylist and at first listen it seems they may be simply the latest to mine the early Radiohead/Coldplay, post-U2 ballad format. Not so. And just when you’re about to throw in the towel and call their lyrics high school stoner poetry, they throw a great line at you like “Don’t think I’ll tell you ‘bout the secret to victory…Remain who you are, and it will remain a mystery.” That’s from Give Arm to Its Socket, a quietly determined and quite sympathetic account of a terrorist with explosive in his pocket. That’s a characteristic touch here: the Republic Tigers are not a complacent band. They won’t go gladly into any kind of good night.

 

The production is terse, reverberating echoes of simple, single-note synth and electric piano with jangly guitar in the background, drums too high in the mix as with every major label release since…well, since Nirvana. The cd opens with Buildings and Mountains, a stoic reflection on the future with rather beautiful vocal harmonies on the chorus, hypnotic synthesizer runs waterfalling in the background. That vibe continues on Feelin’ the Future, after a number that nicks a very familiar Radiohead lick. The next cut continues the sardonic Britrock anthem feel: “Marching into the syncopated cold/It’s orchestrated to play til we give up and just grow old.”

 

There’s an impressively self-aware sensibility here. The casually desperate Fight Song leaves no doubt where the band stands on abiding by the status quo:

 

Everybody’s frightened

By the radically enlightened

And they say to jump

Still you reply

How high?

 

Not everything here is up to that level – and where did that goofy number about air guitar come from (looking for a product placement guys???). But ipod this and get drawn in by the understated lushness of the tunes and a refusenik sensibility that in the end is impossible to refuse. This band – which started out as simply a collaboration between two guys in the studio – is about to kick off a Midwest tour starting Nov 15, 9ish at the Hi Dive in Denver, $12 at the door. Watch this space for New York dates; a Bowery Ballroom show is likely.

 

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November 4, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , | 1 Comment