400 Blows CD review [GSL]

Music Reviews
400 Blows CD review [GSL]
Apr 26, 2005, 03:19

400 BLOWS Angel's Trumpets and Devil's Trombones CD

400 Blows is easily the finest loud music experience I've happened upon this century. It's great “punk” in the ancient sense of the term: “punk” stated as a perspective, attitude, and approach to dealing with and responding to one's environment, especially musical influences both old and new; then it ossified into a “sound” and clothing style, finally becoming fairly meaningless except as a marketing category.

400 Blows has all the sonic aggression, speed and raw energy you could ask for. They're a three piece with vocals that employs the classic guitar/bass/drums set-up. Yet they sound like no one around 'em, and before 'em… nothing! They sound kinda arty, but without being fruity. Their music is very direct and brutal, with those virtues being put into the service of impeccable minimalism. Most songs are rife with short, simple if oblique riffing, threaded through equally spartan, repetitive—yet subtly askew—chording. Often, they'll stick with one chord and methodically run through a short series of permutations of rhythmic figures. Typically this all happens with volume at “11” and ferocity at “12.” Elsewhere they punctuate songs with passages of the guitar vanishing altogether leaving Morse Code bass and stomping drums to carry things along. If Wire tried to interpret Saints' songs or vice versa, it might come out like this. The icing on the cake is vocalist Skot who has a delightfully whinnying neigh, recalling vintage Jello Biafra. Well sprightly he sounds too and mischievous as fuck. Compared to the moaners, groaners and shrieker of other contempo outfits he's utterly refreshing and seductive.

I'll add that while their press materials describe 'em as “punk” they have a wallop and heft quite like the best Helmet. So there ya go! [Gold Standard Laboratiories]

-Howard Wuelfing

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