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Rockin’ Our Turntable: The Secret Machines

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 16, 2008 6:00PM

2008_10_secret_machines.jpgOften when a band self-titles an album after a few years on the scene it means that they view the disc as some sort of mission statement or it’s the result of a band reinventing itself. The Secret Machines lost their original guitarist a few years ago, and when a band’s sound is primarily built on waves of distinctive guitar tones that can be a distressing thing. Some bands might strike out in an entirely new direction, and some might just keep on keepin’ on and try to replicate the sound that brought them to prominence. In the case of The Secret Machines they seemed to have adopted both approaches on their own third -- self-titled -- album.

The new album is their most accessible offering to date, while still managing to remain weird and interesting. The two opening songs showcase singer-keyboardist Brandon Curtis actually, well, sings instead of intoning as he has on previous discs. One thing that has always impressed us was his ability to draw forth melodic hooks while utilizing a rather limited vocal range, but here Curtis pushes his voice in new directions with surprisingly tuneful results. New guitarist Phil Karnats steps in and continues to employ the band’s signature guitar sound while still infusing it with a bit more soul, while also being unafraid to minimize his attack as on the slithering “Underneath The Concrete.” The one unchanged constant in the band’s assault is Josh Garza’s massive and unrelenting Bonham-esque drumming. Taken as a whole, this mixture of the familiar and the new creates a whole new psychedelic palette for the band to create a memorable new sonic stew. We don’t even know what you would call this anymore; maybe it should be named Hard Shoegaze New Wave Pop?

Or maybe we should just shut up, open our ears, and simply enjoy it.

The Secret Machines play October 24 at Metro, 3730 N Clark, 7:30 p.m., $20, all ages