Antlers, Tentacles, Drumsticks, and More
Long Beach, Calif., houses the Queen Mary where a rotting antique organ resides, echoing the haunting footsteps of fallen sailors, European stowaways, and boozing aristocrats. Within the city itself is another organ howling ridiculously through 13 tracks of unapologetic indie rock. Crystal Antlers’ Tentacles feeds off its own momentum.
Of course, throughout the year’s indie releases we hear a steady fascination with noise and reverb. Tentacles isn’t any different. It opens its doors with “Painless Sleep” and “Dust,” a mixture of whirling organ arpeggios, rolling drums, unrelenting aggression, and Johnny Bell making sure listeners can’t understand a word he sings, but enjoy the ever-living hell out of it anyway.
The title track, a dirty garage ditty with enough wailing guitars to pull in some Dinosaur Jr. fans, is evidently the most aggressive song on the album. It, along with Bell’s desperation, doesn’t quit or stumble.
Toward the end of the album, Crystal Antlers’ more dynamic “Until the Sun Dies (Part One),” “Memorized,” and “Your Spears” push the limits of the organ’s welcome. Oddly, no matter how many attacks those keys carry, it never gets old. By now, the band proves their technical prowess.
Despite the other albums this year with enough piss and vinegar to be loud, Tentacles is the kind of release where artists truly get to be themselves. Be glad Crystal Antlers were there for their debut.