Release Date: Sep 16, 2016
Record label: Sinderlyn
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Cymbals Eat Guitars debuted in 2009 with comparisons to Modest Mouse and Built To Spill; last year, they recorded with Brand New's Jesse Lacey for a split with Kevin Devine. Their new album, produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings), incorporates all of that and some E-Street Band swagger and some big tent indie pop bombast. Almost inexplicably, it all makes sense.Singer Joseph D'Agostino is capable of an Isaac Brock yelp, a Johnny Rotten snarl or even a crooning falsetto that'd make Thom Yorke proud.
On a recent episode of Celebration Rock with Steven Hyden, Joseph D’Agostino, lead singer, guitarist, and lyricist of Cymbals Eat Guitars, asserted that asking people to listen to his songs feels very entitled. The self-conscious sensitivity that D’Agostino displayed on that podcast is also evinced through the band’s wondrous fourth album, Pretty Years. Yet, despite D’Agostino’s misgivings, the album is Cymbals’ most generous work lyrically and sonically by a large margin, marking a new level of refinement for the band.
Review Summary: Try to take it all with me / but we forget finally. After the emotional pyre that consumed 2014’s LOSE, Cymbals Eat Guitar’s third album and Exhibit A in the argument that there’s still a (lonely) place for majestic, heart-on-your-sleeve indie rock, the band’s fans may be forgiven for thinking the group would dial it back. In many ways, Pretty Years tends to favor the middle lane over the proggier aspects of the group’s past, and in producer John Congleton the band have someone who understands how to keep a sound sharp without sanding off too many of its rough edges.
The fact that Pretty Years, Cymbals Eat Guitars’ fourth LP, is an utterly fantastic record should come as little surprise to anyone that heard 2014’s LOSE. Exploring the theme of death with remarkable poignancy and elegance, it went down as one of the most criminally undiscovered releases of recent years. One can only hope the band’s latest release finds a wider audience, because once again the New Yorkers come up trumps with an engaging collage of noise rock, emo, indie and grunge.
It's been constant flux for Cymbals Eat Guitars since they seemingly came out of nowhere in 2009 with the excellent Why There Are Mountains. Their two subsequent releases, Lenses Alien and LOSE, were much better albums, yet they didn't capture as mass an audience as their debut, perhaps because the band never fit neatly into a specific milieu within NYC's sprawling scene. Now, after multiple lineup changes, they're more cohesive than ever, gelling into a lean, taut unit on Pretty Years, their finest album to date, in which they finally sound at home in their own sonic universe.
There is not a direct science behind the creation of music that is worth listening to, but there seems to be a direct correlation between talented musicians who approach each subsequent project with a full panorama of conscientious approaches, as opposed to bands who churn out whatever-the-hell each year in an effort to keep their names relevant. Adhering to the former principles, Cymbals Eat Guitars have climbed the exalted ladder of the indie rock haven in the seven years since their formal debut, and all flippant mumbo-jumbo about the looming influence of Pavement should be written down, balled up, and discarded. They're a band that make seismic evolutions with each subsequent release, like their intimate, laudatory 2014 LOSE album that branded them with a warranted #bandsyoushouldcareabout golden hashtag.
Cymbals Eat Guitars’ 2009 debut album Why There Are Mountains arrived at the very tail end of indie-rock’s halcyon days when it was still possible for a new band to earn a fast following just by doing the whole Built to Spill/Modest Mouse/Pixies thing well. That’s not to say they didn’t deserve their success. They were always more than the sum of their influences, considerably craftier and less predictable than most of the era’s ’90s enthusiasts.
After shifting personnel with some regularity since their debut, Cymbals Eat Guitars' fourth LP finds leader and main songwriter Joseph D'Agostino the sole remaining original member. Their sound seems to be largely under his sway, though, as the band continues to offer vibrant, guitar-centric tunes with a certain amount of college rock and '90s indie flavor on Pretty Years. It's their first to be produced by John Congleton (St.
With their fourth full-length, Cymbals Eat Guitars have produced an in-your-face rollercoaster ride that takes you skywards, leaves you hanging about at the top for a bit, before dropping down in one huge swoop of adrenaline. It turbulently clatters through a spectrum of emotions, replicating the urgency and unpredictable nature of life itself, and it’s at its most euphoric when it doesn’t try so hard to push the boundaries. However, a stand-off, prickly attitude just makes it a little too hard to really fall in love with.
Cymbals Eat Guitars is a “blog rock” survivor. Cymbals emerged in 2009 with Why There Are Mountains, the product of a bunch of high school buddies self-releasing a record without any expectations. But like so many bands that had that derisive term shoved upon it, the record caught on, hard and fast. At a time when Pitchfork christening an album as “Best New Music” could jumpstart a career, Cymbals had a windfall of attention.
Despite a jam-packed September, I can't help noticing how Carl and I ended up a little bit underwhelmed with many of the albums we reviewed this month. But since both of us got to cover most of our favorites on full-length form, it only makes sense this month's choices are mostly solid, but ….