Boom Box Repair Kit

My Dear Antagonist

Written by: PP on 01/04/2009 15:27:28

Just a few reviews ago I was criticizing the staleness of new bands forming and hailing from New York City. Turns out it's bad karma to do that sort of thing, considering how Boom Box Repair Kit has now officially made me look stupider than I already did with their new album "My Dear Antagonist", an intriguing, extremely original piece of composition combining influences and sounds from punk, hardcore, indie, Afro-Caribbean rock, Spanish culture and even hip hop together into a crazy genre cocktail. It takes a while to appreciate it, but it is a huge grower and rewards patience with an exceptionally rich and vividly flavoured soundscape. Now lets dig in, shall we.

The album begins with a Capella vocals and Caribbean rhythms in "Bug Bear", bringing in some horns and saxophones towards the end of the song. You could be forgiven to think that's exactly how the rest of the album will sound like, but then "Woe Untitled" breaks that illusion with a crashing bass/guitar/drum explosion that references extreme music more than anything else, shifting most faces into a huge question mark after the mellowness of the opening track. The chaos lasts only for a moment though, and the rest of the song sounds effectively like The Mars Volta mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's solo albums, only with horns and Afro-Caribbean culture influenced vox. Lael Llaverias's voice has me thinking Cuba and cigars for some reason, except in the end where the whole song suddenly morphs into a traditional Spanish folk song (or at least that's the impression I get from it). So far it's been interesting, but not particularly rewarding. That changes with "Snails (Happy Anniversary)"'s funky bass lines and experimental guitars though: The Afro-Caribbean roots are still the underlying force of the song, but the psychotic guitars and the ragga-punk inspired chorus make the song one of the highlights on the album.

Where "Snails" was experimental, "Love Redundant" is the opposite, relying on simple punk chords and a radio-style vocal effects to create what is perhaps the most straight forward song on the record. It works as a nice lead into the excellent "I'd Rather Dance With A Stranger", a danceable funk explosion that shouldn't leave anyone standing still. The psychotic guitars of "Snails..." make a welcome return to battle the equally crazy bass-line, and if the fast, bouncy rhythm and the catchy vocals don't make you wanna dance then I don't know what will. The strong part of the album continues with the best song of the record, "Plastic Heart Surgery", which combines hip-hop with Spanish cultural references much in the same way as Whole Wheat Bread on their recent record "Hearts & Hoodlums". The chorus, which recalls Cypress Hill material from their more rock oriented album "Skulls & Bones", is retardedly catchy and is one of the first times ever where I'm willing to go on print saying that the song actually benefits from the half-rapped verses. It's immediately followed by another strong track, "Trip The Light Fantastico", a Spanish music & hardcore punk hybrid song that switches seamlessly between the two styles in the middle of the song. "Two Ton Grudge" has bit of the same feel as "Snails...", before the album is closed by another Whole Wheat Bread sounding track "Your Pain Is Overrated".

We've gone through a dozen genres throughout the record, some extremely experimental moments, few simplistic ones, some catchy & pop oriented stuff, and even a little bit of extreme music as the icing on top of the cake. It's fair to say I've never heard anything quite like Boom Box Repair Kit and "My Dear Antagonist", so I guess 'original' is a must-use term here. At the same time, the album lacks a little bit of focus and the listener gets easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of non-contemporary styles integrated into the music. While that offers a rewarding musical experience for anyone tired of the same old same old churned out by the music industry, it may be just a tad bit too unpredictable for my tastes, hence the grade being not as high as I would've wanted to give these guys.


Download: I'd Rather Dance With A Stranger, Plastic Heart Surgery, Snails (Happy Anniversary)
For the fans of: Bad Brains, Whole Wheat Bread, Cypress Hill
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.03.2009

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