By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
The Light at the End of the Tunnel is a Train
When I was 13-ish and didn't know any better I extrapolated what T. Rex's Electric Warrior sounded like strictly from its sleeve art. That gold-haloed, guitar-wielding silhouette would lathe out spread-legged wave after wave of ceaseless, perfect riffs, droning with ad nauseam metal churn and cretin funk like some great never-ending lunkhead mantra, that stack of sinister Dr. Who amps pushing exponential reverb out into the black void of nothing and everything. I guess I kinda set up "Mambo Sun" to fail there. So I had to wait another 15 years for that monolithic teenage-brain rock machine to finally arrive--which, it turns out, can be delivered by a one-man operation.
Now, there are three things I've discovered about bassist/guitarist/drummer/programmer/producer/singer Nathan Whitey since stumbling across this CD, which, alas, is still only available as an expensive import. 1) The British musical press seems to think he's a schmuck; 2) they're wrong, which leads me to my most important discovery: 3) total electrified riff power of tomorrow! Whitey's dance-floor approach to punk-guitar repetition is a great idea of what mainstream modern rock would sound like if it hadn't given up its passing interest in techno 10 years back. The Light at the End... is rife with staticky fuzz bass and enough hyperactive electro chirps to stock Kraftwerk's aviary. "Intro/In the Limelight" aims for "My Sharona" and overshoots it into a squall of android Hawkwind freakout, while "Leave Them All Behind" and "Y.U.H.2.B.M." (or, as Whitey mumbles constantly, "whyyouhavetobemad") scour the grunge off early-'90s alt rock, turning up the bass so loud it sets off catchy alarms. And after a weird pop breather of a midsection that approximates the Beta Band tackling the poppier sections of White Light/White Heat, the album drops the two best rock songs you haven't heard this year: the hooks-for-miles "Halfway Gone" (Queens of the Stone Age in bright red new-wave couture) and the big-bottomed "Nonstop" (glam boogie as ultimate treble negater). The gong has been banged, and my ears are still ringing.
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