Index got reviewed in local college paper The Daily Collegian yesterday. Main takeaway is one we’ve heard before, and one that’s (fairly) plagued everyone from Neil Young to Tom Verlaine to Ira Kaplan to Colin Newman, i.e. “Your vocals suck,” although this critic isn’t quite as blunt as that.
I’ve savaged enough bands as a writer that I’m not too piqued about someone not liking my vocals. Hell, I’m not crazy about ’em myself, but I have to work with the instrument I’ve got. Scott Miller of the great Game Theory and later the Loud Family used to credit himself with guitars and “miserable whine” on some early records, and how he felt about his vocals pretty much mirrors how I feel about mine. Except Scott’s a much better singer than I am.
But it is always interesting to see what critics have to say. In this case, she’s right on about the classic rock vibe on Index, it’s definitely there. And she picked up the Beatles thing, although I wouldn’t have pegged “Lucy in the Sky” as a touchpoint. I’m really not sure where the references to Cheap Trick and especially the Ramones come from, though. And, uh, the theme from “Friends”? Okay, whatever. At least she dug the guitars.
But I am going to raise one quibble with this review, and it has nothing to do with the critic’s opinion of our work — she’s entitled to feel how she does about it, just as J.-P. and I are entitled to feel how we feel about (wait for it….) Eric Clapton. But in the opening graph of the review, assertions are made about indie rock sterotypically being the province of scruffy-yet-stylish iPod-cyborgs who purchase consumer items at Urban Outfitters.
What does a corporate clothing store have to do with indie rock? (About as much as a coffee shop has to do with Sonic Youth, I guess, i.e. it’s a good source of lucre.) And who cares what stylish guys listen to? To quote famous indie rock expert Frank Booth, “Fuck that shit!” I’m well aware that UO markets itself as a hipster haven and, to enhance its cred, sponsors “now” bands like The Rapture and (closer to our age bracket) Dinosaur Jr. That’s fine, and if I were those bands I’d take the money and run, too. But sponsoring a tour and putting together a compilation CD of palatable and safe indie rock does not make your GARMENT BUSINESS a credible arbiter of “indie”, whatever that is anyway.
Besides, all the cool kids shop at thrift stores.
Anyway, here’s the review:
THE LONG AFTERNOON LACKS IN VOCAL PERFORMANCE
The Long Afternoon, a band based out of State College, described its music on its Facebook and official site as indie rock — but it doesn’t entirely fit the stereotypical bill of indie music.
Instead, the band’s music sounds very much like homemade ’90s garage band music, not like the music commonly heard today in stores like Urban Outfitters or on the iPod of stylish guys who wear plaid shirts and sport scruff.
Listeners can get a taste of The Long Afternoon’s most recent work in “An Index of Maladjustments,” its third album released last month consisting of 11 original songs.
The strength of the band’s new album lies in the overall instrumental feel of the songs. Introductions in the songs run on the lengthy side, but that may be for a reason.
But as the tempo of each instrumental introduction build up to lead way for the vocals, listeners might be disappointed.
Vocals are subpar in comparison with the instrumentals — which are reminiscent of The Beatles, especially on the second song on the album “Better Now,” or its title track that sounds a bit like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in the intro.
The songs remind me of quintessential late ’90s music: the opening song to the show “Friends” or the soundtrack to movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Never Been Maladjustments” lacks solid consistent theme throughout. It starts out with somewhat light rock and roll, gets darker and then goes into songs trying to be reminiscent of classics like Cheap Trick or The Ramones on songs like “Derailer.”
That being said, the CD does not necessarily focus on new sounds, or things that are popular today, but seems to be stuck in taking cues from classic rock and roll artists and attempting to make it unique to The Long Afternoon.
Download: “Better Now”