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Crystal Antlers, Times New Viking, Dupec @ Sneaky Pete’s, 18 May

Live review for The Skinny

Crystal Antlers

The unifying theme of this gig was always going to be volume – as in, lots of it. But Edinburgh band Dupec (****) refuse to be blown off the stage by their raucous American successors tonight. The trio pour their all into this their most high profile show to date, crashing every cymbal and straining every sinew of songs that are by turns intricately melodic and searingly intense.

After a rather random visual interlude by an American ‘video jockey’, Ohio punks Times New Viking (***) stumble into vision with their shambolic racket, taking some time to hit their stride; their short, sharp opening songs melting into an unwieldy gloop that leaves the audience uncertain where to clap. But this simple guitar-drums-keys trio finally shift into a wilfully discordant gear, and the reticent onlookers gradually become slightly more animate.

No chance of indifference in the face of Crystal Antlers (****). Led by grizzly frontman Jonny Bell, the Californian sextet inject a not unwelcome shot of trippy psychedelica into proceedings. Bolstered by incessant organ and latin percussion, it’s an overwhelming spectacle, but they reign it all in with robust blues riffs on Andrew and A Thousand Eyes. There’s a lasting buzz in our ears, but this was well worth the damage.

Dupec support We Were Promised Jetpacks at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh on 9 June.

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Crystal Antlers – Tentacles

Album review for The Skinny

Crystal Antlers - Tentacles

In the endlessly cyclical history of popular music, psychedelic rock has mostly been left to gather dust in record shops. There have been isolated attempts to revive the genre from bands like Comets on Fire and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but nothing like a concerted revival. Crystal Antlers could well be the band to trigger it. Continuing where their acclaimed EP left off, Tentacles is a blistering onslaught of splashy organ, tangential guitar solos and Jonny Bell’s howling vocals. Despite their adoption of late-60s modes, the latest ‘crystal’-prefixed band do more than perform CPR on a half-dead musical corpse. Andrew, for instance, begins on a Van Morrison-style blues refrain before plunging into a double-speed punk frenzy, while Memorized is a pained, exhilarating track that encroaches on the far-out territory of the Mars Volta. Unlike their indulgent forebears, Crystal Antlers refract psychedelic rock through the prism of punk, adding plenty of soul in the process.

Rating: 4/5

Crystal Antlers play Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh on 18 May and Stereo, Glasgow on 19 May.

Stay tuned for an interview with Crystal Antlers frontman Jonny Bell next week.

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