System And Station

A Series Of Screws

Written by: PP on 03/12/2010 01:43:38

Indie rock isn't one of my favorite genres, but every now and then a great band pops up that's simply too good to be ignored. I've been following Portland's System And Station now for a few releases worth of material, "A Series Of Screws" being their fourth full length so far. Through the first three albums, the band spent extensive time in developing a unique, signature sound that was unmistakbly theirs, one that borrows from a wide variety of bigger bands in the genre (Copeland, Built To Spill for instance), but not enough to directly place them in parallel. Thus far, this sound has included all sorts of treats like angular guitar riffs, smooth/delicate passages, and casual tempo changes to give their sound lots of variety.

On this one, however, the band has evolved from their strict experimental indie rock origins towards more of a rock/alterantive direction. A comparison to The Thermals isn't entirely out of place here, as the guitars now resonate with a bit of a garage flavor to them in many places. The vocals, too, have gained some distortion in the vein of said band, though there are plenty of smooth, well-flowing passages to find as well. You could argue that the songwriting has become more straight-forward, and if you ask me, it makes the songs sound slightly less impressive than before. Nonetheless, the overall level of songwriting is still very high, as a quick listen to the title track, "In The Valley", or the intelligent guitar playing in "Murder Of Crow" will show you. The latter should bring to mind an indie rock version of Attack In Black's quiet post-hardcore fire on "Marriage".

But I can't help but think something is missing. Where's that spark that made me fall in love with so many of their songs in the past? The little details in the subtle melodies are still there but not as abundant as before. The guitars aren't as sharp and pointed, a natural consequence of a slightly 'messier' garage sound brought on intentionally, I suppose. Still, there's little one can criticize "A Series Of Screws" for, because these are merely cosmetic flaws discovered only by a fan of their discography. The rest of you should take time to discover one of the more underground, but also one of the upper-tier indie rock bands when it comes to quality and originality within the genre.


Download: A Series Of Screws, Murder Of Crow,
For the fans of: The Thermals, Attack In Black (indie version), Built To Spill, The New Frontiers
Listen: Myspace

Release date 19.10.2010
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