When creating a band name, it's safe to stick with primary colors, and when you can't think of any, use "black." Then you should think of something ethereal but natural ... something mysterious, like mountains or wolves. Maybe moths? There's a new trend on the horizon, though, and it's called "Crystal." Signed to Touch & Go, Crystal Antlers is the next big name you should hear. Their six-song EP—titled EP—gives a sneak peek into a band whose sound is as diverse as the members of the group (seriously, look at a picture of them together).
They're young kids from L.A. with some great connections (Ikey Owens from Mars Volta recorded their album), and it's pretty obvious they've listened to their share of everything from early Pink Floyd to Les Savy Fav. The album falls into a stoner/psych-rock-meets-accessible-pop-song-constructions genre. As a stoner-rock album, each song does end with the dangling ellipse of dissonant guitar screeches, which are actually quite enjoyable, mostly because it seems they know when to call a song quits. And their songs tend to follow the classic psych-rock construction of crunchy guitars and bass-heavy drums in a reverb-crescendo-repeat fashion. But what separates these guys from some of their contemporaries is their ability to incorporate foreign elements into the classic construction.
At times, an almost marimba-timed beat falls to a halt just in time for the falsetto screeching of Jonny Bell to bring the song back around to the mainline, most noticeable in "A Thousand Eyes," which actually includes a beautiful instrumental interlude in which bongos become the main feature. "Owl" (the most Les Savy Fav-influenced track) has a heavier addition of the organs, which continues on to "Arcturus," in which both the organs and the wanky guitars share the spotlight, following the same chord progressions. At no point in time did any of the instruments or vocals become too overpowering. Crystal Antlers are like polite children all taking their turns and overlapping only for the benefit of the whole. The effort is most successful on their final track, "Parting Song for the Torn Sky," which features a two-minute guitar-distortion intro followed by the yelping vocals of Bell, after which is a full jam session. Bell also plays a variety of woodwinds when he's not singing. They're not necessarily prominent in any particular song, but are the cause of the consistent low-tone drone, which only serves to give every song a more robust sound, like every track has mass. Crystal Antlers has found a psych-rock niche and have given themselves room to grow, which gives me something to look forward to when they release a full-length album.