Born in a Barn
This album was written in a barn. Seriously. Last February, the Long Beach five-piece Crystal Antlers, which includes a percussionist and a set of keys, took off to live in a barn in Mexico to record their second full-length, Two-Way Mirror. The album takes a few listens all the way through before songs start to stand out. Jonny Bell‘s voice is a little less hoarse this time around, which tends to give the songs less emotion and power, as the rest of the band usually only provides wacky sounds as opposed to powerful riffs.
It’s not completely gone though, as evident in songs such as “Two-Way Mirror” where Bell screams “Just let go!” Two-Way Mirror keeps an upbeat tempo through the first half. “Fortune Telling” slows down the pace slightly, but it doesn’t make you want to slow dance around the room just yet. This song is wisely placed after “Way Out,” a one-and-a-half minute interlude with no vocals. “Sun-Bleached,” on the second half of the album, is also a slower tune but sounds too much like a drunkard plucking at guitar strings with too much reverb.
The instrumentals in “Always Afraid” sound strikingly similar to a song from The Doors, but “Two-Way Mirror” sounds just like the surfer-rock you’d expect to hear from a Long Beach-based band, just so you know what you’re getting into before listening.
This band is doing a lot of interesting things and isn’t one to take off your radar. Some will connect instantly with Two-Way Mirror. Others just won’t get it.