Friday, March 23, 2007

Antarctica Takes It! – The Penguin League

Band: Antarctica Takes It
Album: The Penguin League
Release Date: 2006
Label: None/DIY

Just reading the brief album stats (above) will give you a hint as to the nature of this release, if you can even call it that. This, however, doesn’t give the slightest hint about just how charming and invigorating the music from Antarctica Takes It! is. The album can’t be found at any retail outlets, in fact, as far as I can tell, mailing the band $6 in an envelope is the only way to get it. And it isn’t a professionally manufactured CD and case by any means; it is basically just a CD-R. The sound quality too, tells the story of a DIY band. The music is incredibly lo-fi, and the band even states on their myspace, that as they record their next CD “this time we're using a microphone.” I can’t be sure if this is an exaggeration or what, but it’s clear, though, that the production values here are not quite studio quality. I can say though, what this release lacks in audio quality, it makes up for in personality.

The CD is only ten tracks long, and clocks in at just less than 30 minutes. The longest track and perhaps one of the best is the second to last, “Antarctica,” and it is hardly more than 4 minutes. The album opens up with “I’m No Lover,” which, like the rest of the CD, is filled with lyrical gems, both clever and entertaining. The first words you’ll hear out of Dylan McKeever, the lead singer, are “I'm not a lover, I'm a fighter and I would burn your house down.” As the album progresses, there is no lack of this lyrical style, that is both humorous and meaningful.

While I don’t have a gripe with a single song on this album, I do have three favorites. The first, “Circuits” features harmonizing vocals, and interesting mix of instruments. The unique mix of chimes and harmonica create a light airy atmosphere for the song. My particular favorite, “Fog Song” has a slower, more brooding sound to it, but it is equally lovable and endearing. It has a distinctive marching pace, which is kept throughout by a combination of snare as well as piano and a variety of strings.

Finally, “Antarctica” makes it to my list of most memorable tracks. “Antarctica” is easily described as the album’s climax, while the somber “Goodbye” is more of a polite send off. “Antarctica” manages to cram into just 4:12 a variety of styles that make for a rich musical experience.

It seems as if the chief complaint about this release is the low quality of the recording. However, if you can set aside any instances of audiophilia, you will find a delightful and sincere release that is both interesting and easy to listen to. I am very excited to hear what is coming next from Antarctica Takes It!, and I hope after reading this, and hearing the album, that you are too.

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