(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, August 23, 2010

CD review - Blood Red Shoes, Fire Like This (2010)

Fire Like This rolls relentlessly like a juggernaut. Blood Red Shoes have infused this album with a rollicking energy that grabs the ear and won't let go. It's a blur of post-punk, indie rock, and edgy hard modern rock. The rhythms are heavy and crunchy, accented with angular guitar lines, and permeated with a rich vein of discordance.

This all becomes evident from the start of the opening song, Don't Ask. The insistent driving beat is accompanied by a pounding guitar. This beginning is the anxious post-punk chorus. The verses are a more modern Arctic Monkeys alt rock Brit pop. The two parts fit together smoothly. Then the bridge shifts the balance by kicking in a hard rock grunge. This turns out to be a standard tool for Blood Red Shoes. They delight in using a contrasting bridge to force the listener to rethink the song a bit. This perspective shift is a great tool for adding depth to their material.

What's most amazing is that Blood Red Shoes is just two musicians: guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell. While the album does have some overdubs, there's a raw energy offset by richer complexity. This contrasts with similar bands like the White Stripes, which balance more to the raw energy side.

My favorite track is It is Happening Again, which has a more progressive rock intro then slides into another angular post punk guitar riff working against a driving, heavy rhythm. The drums switch effortlessly between the straight rhythm of the intro into the subtle syncopation and speedy fills of the chorus. Once again, the bridge takes us somewhere else. It's a chromatic, drifting wander through a hard to predict series of chords.

As a contrast, When We Wake starts tentatively with a simple melodic riff. Heavy syncopated drums build underneath. The song builds with repetition to a grungy rock:
In the end, is this all we can ask for?
Breathing every day and night just waiting
Broken in pieces
The build and Edge-like guitar riff give this a U2 vibe.

My favorite song is Count It Out. What? I've already named a fave? I don't care, this is my other favorite. Again, this features a riff driven guitar, relentless drum, and a longing vocal. The drums develop more complexity and the chorus is amazing: a wonderfully grindy guitar line that stretches high at the ends of the lines. It sounds like the Smithereens meet Nirvana. This time, the bridge goes for a jangly punk guitar feel before diving back into the chorus.

I could keep picking favorites or just tell you to get Fire Like This when it releases on October 12 on V2 Records (it's already out in the UK). I've been too caught up listening to the album to pick anything special to drink.

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