CD Review: Antelope's 'Reflector'
There are people who are wholeheartedly devoted to the Dischord Records label, who will buy, nay, devour with a kind of religious fervor anything and everything that founder Ian MacKaye has deemed worthy. What's not to like or respect? Ian MacKaye has been a visionary for almost 30 years, ever since playing in the seminal D.C. punk band, Teen Idles. Full disclosure: I don't think I would have survived high school without MacKaye's "other" band, Minor Threat. I got to see Minor Threat in '83 (yes, I'm that old) and I got 8 stitches on my face from an accidental headbutt at a Fugazi (MacKaye's "other other" band) show in '90.
The ultimate DIY-guy, MacKaye founded his own record label, Dischord, when most people his age were working their first fast food or retail job. MacKaye has helped define the Washington D.C. scene, supporting bands, recording and distributing their music, and influencing bands and musicians worldwide for decades. All very commendable.
MacKaye likes to work with what he's familiar with, with people he knows, in a place he's grown up in. The problem this presents over time is that the end result is a myopic and extremely limited worldview that has become just plain boring. The band Antelope is a manifestation of this. The band is composed of ex-members of other Dischord bands, which seems to be the lineup of many/most currently active Dischord bands.
Let me describe how an Antelope song sounds: (guitars) plink plink planky plink, (drums) dum da da dum dum, with some reedy vocals over the top of it (check out a live video clip HERE and scroll down to Antelope). I've come to realize that Ian MacKaye, who recorded and essentially produced this record, has confused the idea of clarity with coldness. The songs are very clearly recorded but there is no roundness or warmth to any of the elements and the very thin vocals desperately need something to give them a boost. I guess the homogenously inane repetitiveness of each tune on Reflector means that Antelope has defined their "sound" but thankfully, the average 2 minute song length meant that the time spent listening to this 10 track album went by mercifully quickly.
I wish I could have been more positive about this but I think Dischord needs to give other bands/sounds/scenes a chance. If Antelope hadn't been a part of the inbred Dischord culture, they would never have risen above the coffee house player status that they should be relegated to.
[attached is Antelope's 'the Demon', perhaps their most interesting song.]