Long Beach's Crystal Antlers Face Critics, Aren't Obliterated

It's a surprisingly rare that a band in the Weekly's Orange County-Long Beach-Glasshouse jurisdiction has enough heft to get its debut reviewed nationally. On the strength of their 2008 self-titled EP and a few rounds of live performances at industry showcases like South by Southwest and CMJ, Crystal Antlers passed the buzz threshold, bringing their full-length debut (officially released last week) to the attention of taste-making websites and wish-they-were-taste-making magazines.

The snotty local alt-weekly thought that Tentacles was fun overall, a little tiresome, and not quite as cool as the EP. What did everyone else think? We scanned Metacritic for highlights and for sentences to nitpick out of context...


Allmusic

loved it, and managed to cram seemingly every cliche phrase about hipster-lauded bands into one regurgitated thesis statement:

"Six months after an enormous amount of blog buzz championed their EP, Crystal Antlers release their first full-length, Tentacles, a debut that largely lives up to all the surrounding hype championing the group as one of the hottest new indie up-and-comers."

See? Enormous, blog buzz, hype, hottest, new, indie up-and-comers... They also used the word "champion" twice! This is a good sign for the band.

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Adequacy.net (which also goes by the less-utilitarian "Delusions of Adequacy") called the album "downright fantastic." They seem to be suckers for pain: "It beats away at a frenzied pace before it slows down and seamlessly transitions into "Dust" which, succinctly, will obliterate you." Fact check: Your reporter listened to "Dust" and, as far as can be surmised, still exists. The Adequacy critic finishes by letting us know that car washes make him hungry, which is the same thing as being high, which is also what Crystal Antlers makes him feel like: "...once it all ends, you're left with such a salivating feeling. Sort of like if your head's just been thrown into a car wash and you've felt every dizzying high and low in the most memorable way. But still, you want more of it because you know it's an incredible high."

The NME, those British exciteables, delivers what we're all looking for in Crystal Antlers reviews: dismissive references to the homeland! "For a town that's more famous for the perma-tanned celebrities that grace its sandy beaches than its righteous egalitarians on soapboxes, it's refreshing that a group like Crystal Antlers can exist within its confines."

Pitchfork, the webzine that arguably got this whole hypeball rolling, provided a positive but slightly disappointed assessment -- not far in spirit from our own. But I seriously don't get the opener. "Cold War Kids tabbed Crystal Antlers as their opening act on an upcoming tour-- a surprising move considering CWK represents, in part, blog-savvy music fans prioritizing the familiar over the daring, while Crystal Antlers trade in styles often treated with disinterest or sometimes outright derision. Antlers are a heavy and especially loud psych-punk band, but they lack the outsider cachet of metal or noise; their psychedelia is more shaggy than dreamy and they're not stone-rock enough to sidle up next to, say, Black Mountain or Comets on Fire." Forget the omitted fact that Cold War Kids may have toured with Crystal Antlers because they're from the same hood. What exactly is it about Crystal Antlers that you'd expect blog readers not to like? They're noisy, they're weird, they have mildly quirky promo pics. Sounds perfect. Sure: Loud, proggy, shouty music gets written off a lot, but it depends on the listener, right? There's certainly a contingent of blog-savvy music fans that lurve "challenging" bands like Crystal Antlers while thinking that Cold War Kids are drool. Hmm, maybe that's the point. Regardless, it took too long to figure out.

Cokemachineglow, which every cool kid knows is the new Stylus, which every cool kid knows was cooler than Pitchfork, thought along the same lines as the cool kids Pitchfork: Nice try, but we miss the EP.  This sentence is kind of neat: "To a certain extent, EP (2008) was unhinged, but it was held together by enough wads of gum and paperclips not to collapse into a messy pile of pointless aggression."

Tiny Mix Tapes, a website of funny headlines and hit-or-miss reviews, hated all over Tentacles. "These tracks are lifeless, and the multitude of sounds turns to mud, eventually eating itself." To which we might respond: Mud eats? To which they might respond: Organs glare? Touche.

Find any other critical gems? Post away.


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