Airtight Garage – Felangus Box (CD)

When I saw this CD I was expecting nothing but overbearing indie rock that would have me wanting to kill myself between the fifth and sixth track. I was wrong, as Mike Ness says, as tracks like “Ocean Close” show a nice mixture of the Doors, R.E.M. and the B-52s, all packaged together with a fairly convincing mastering. The overall tone of the disc is solidified with “Duke The Deadman & Spike the Goddamned”, and it is during tracks like “Straight Message” that slightly different directions are taken by the band, ensuring that their listener base will not get bored. In fact, :”Straight Message” is the stepping off point, as after Airtight Garage have hooked in their listener base, they really have carte blanche to do whatever they wish with the rest of the disc. What results, in tracks like “Passing Star”, are very catchy alt-rock tunes that seem perfect for another time (think the turn of the nineties) instead of the cold and mechanical drek that is being pushed on the world en masse by record companies.

Coming back to the Doors impression with “POD”, Airtight Garage provide a more emotive set of vocals with a very earthy and natural sounding instrumentation (made that way by the inclusion of bongos during all parts of the track). While tracks like “Tentside Brides” incorporate distinctive guitars and soulful basslines, the bad thing comes when Jason’s vocals tend to achieve a falsetto, making them susceptible for immediate tune-out for anyone who is multi-tasking. Also, on tracks later on in “Felangus Box”, like “Walls & Locks”, the recording seems to go downhill. I’m not necessarily sure if it is just my imagination, but it is almost like someone accidentally bumped a volume knob, which proceeded to push all the levels into the red.

Airtight Garage’s “Felangus Box” is an album that immediately defies pigeonholing, and I feel the band can notch up a victory for that fact alone. However, the band does not seem to have distilled their essence down to the base that would allow them to be placed alongside such revolutionaries as the Minutemen and Velvet Underground. To be succinct, a track like “Several Ghost” has a John-like set of vocals (They Might Be Giants) but utterly pedestrian instrumentation. Airtight Garage has the talent to create masterful works, but this is just not the album they do that on. Keep checking up on this band, and I’m sure they will achieve this musical nirvana soon.

Top Tracks: Leaning Back, Ocean Close

Rating: 5.0/10

Airtight Garage – Felangus Box / 2004 Downtime Records / 14 Tracks / http://www.downtimestudios.com / atg@downtimestudios.com / Reviewed 27 February 2005

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