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The So So Glos – Low Back Chain Shift EP

on October 12, 2010, 7:59am
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According to the electronic bastion of truth that is Wikipedia, an EP is a release that’s “…25 minutes of length or four tracks.” Pretty constricting boundaries, unless you’re New York-based The So So Glos. For their new 7”, Low Back Chain Shift, the Brooklyn four-piece takes five tracks, with an approximate total length of some 13 minutes, and displays a firm grasp on getting the most out of just a few minutes while still leaving the listener begging for more.

“Live Like T.V.”  adequately sums up their sound: New York garage rock circa The Strokes, built up to a New Romantic status thanks to a slightly more anthemic quality of the instrumentation, and with fairly British indie rock sensibilities. In this song, a relationship with a woman is compared to living life as the idiot box (“Every night, the re-run goes/you go out and I stay home/ how’s your chaperon/I wish you’d come and turn me on”.) Despite the complex description, the band is adept at mixing those vibes and genres to create a flawless sound with a punk ethos. As ear-catching as the track may be, the song (the album’s longest at 3:33) is a drop in the frantic pond of blazing rock sounds.

While this effort is short even for an EP, the abruptness of it all isn’t a deterrence; rather, it’s sort of intoxicating to be pummeled by an onslaught of rapid-fire music with such emotional content and raw power. What’s truly interesting is that while they have all but mastered the modern punk rock sound, they also have time to tell a seemingly complete sonic story. Album opener “Fred Astaire” is two minutes of good time dance-rock music that sets the tempo for most of the album. By the time you get to “Lindy Hop” just a few minutes later, you hear the strain in lead singer Alex Levine’s voice, as if this whole effort was truly done in one straight shot. Sure, it probably wasn’t, but that kind of feeling only enhances the release and its relentless, in-your-face attitude.

While the vast majority of the album is all about dropkicking you in the face with rocking tunes, there’s also space dedicated for some very intriguing musical tweaks, predominantly of the New Wave variety. While not distinctly New Wave, the acoustic ditty “New Stance” comes in the middle of the EP and serves as tiny refuse from the oceans of heavy guitar sounds and layered production, all thanks to some light accordion playing. The group channels even more ‘70s-era Elvis Costello with “Here Comes The Neighborhood”, a vibrant song that’s in the vain of the oh-so-popular minimalistic beach tunes without tripping into stoner-dom. Together, both tracks paint a picture of a band simultaneously in synch with their contemporaries and off exploring slightly less concrete genre trappings.

In just five songs, and in less time than it takes to watch the average sitcom, The So So Glos have made an EP that’s more energetic, playful, and engaging than many full-length albums. Put that on Wikipedia.

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