Screams and whispers

Athletic Automaton, Allysen Callery, and Midnight Creeps
By BOB GULLA  |  September 25, 2007
PUT ME IN, COACH: Athletic Automaton.

The parade of local noisemeisters continues this week with releases from one of the city’s fiercest duos and one of local history’s best punk bands, sandwiching the unassuming strains of one of the year’s prettiest acoustic albums.

The primo noise folks at Chicago’s Skin Graft label have a pipeline going from Providence. Since the early ’90s, the imprint has spewed out an array of the damaged chaos spawned in our town. Athletic Automaton’s A Journey Through Roman’s Empire is the band’s second full-length release, a pin-your-ears-back blitzkrieg of barrelhouse bluster. The vintage gym rat boys Steve and Pat, on guitar and drums, flat out burn. It’s frightening stuff, half psyche-trance, half big rock power, that’s more scripted than expected, with enough familiar repetition to bang your head and enough surprises to make you wince. There are even a few wry hooks, emphasized beautifully in incredible hi-fi, thanks to Keith Souza at Machines with Magnets. Massive noise, massive feat.

There’s something magical about Allysen Callery’s new album. It has a dreamy quality that feels mysterious and bewitching. The opening tune, “Feathercap,” sounds somewhat like Sandy Denny, with a subtle soprano sweetness. In fact, a British folk influence permeates Hopey. Allysen’s acoustic guitar sits in a pocket well behind her vocals with muted tones, and the delicate accompaniment is haunting in the frailest way, as if Allysen is afraid that any noise might disrupt the mood.
But it’s the ambient nature of this recording that distinguishes it from others in the genre and it’s the only acoustic album since I started writing this column that invokes such haunting British spirits.

ALLYSEN CALLERY + HEATHER ROSE + KIM LAMOTHE | September 29 | Church Street Coffeehouse, 25 Church St, Warren | 8 pm | $10 [free CD for first 25 people] | 401.247.3004

Is this the record the Creeps were born to make? Better recorded and more (choke!) polished than anything the band has ever done, it’s a ton more accessible than their past work, with cleaner guitar tracks and more discernible vocals from Jenny. The great thing about Black Eye is that it doesn’t lose an ounce of power in its quest for accessibility. The disc fuses their patented, ramped-up punk barrage with some badass ’70s rock hooks, especially on the blasting “Blue-Eyed Sinner” and the undeniable “Barracoochie Lucy,” both of which crank out a barrage of triumphant metallic punk. The record eases up on the accelerator as it winds down, with the too-basic shout “Never Got Better” and the bluesy, harp dirge “Inside Rain,” but it’s not enough to defuse the rest of this bruising 30-minute bomb.

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