Clutter Control: Down and Above wants you to Hold Your Breath


In perhaps the most truly random Clutter Control yet, this album was snatched without looking out of my stacks while running out of the office to catch the train. No time to consider cool album art or hilariously weird-ass names. By chance, this turned out to be Clutter Control's first local album - Hold Your Breath For A Rising Tide by Minneapolis hard rockers Down and Above.

The first thing I notice about Hold Your Breath For A Rising Tide is that the lady on the cover is wearing SCUBA gear. Why would she need to hold her breath? Perhaps the oxygen tank was ruptured by a giant squid? I guess to answer that question we'll have to play the CD.

The Gist
If you've ever wanted music to play behind a film montage, you should be able to find an appropriate track on Hold Your Breath. That's what it is - an entire album of montage music, either big and bombastic or slow and grindingly earnest. The kid who left home to make something of himself? Show him training with "Proud (A Promise Kept)" blaring. For a sequence showing that kid's descent into hardcore drug use, put in "So Alive." When he decides to hitchhike home in failure, capture the choppily-edited journey by playing "The Things You See In Me."

Despite the fact (or perhaps because) Hold Your Breath never takes any risks beyond a few impressive guitar riffs, it's completely enjoyable rock 'n roll, rarely exciting, but also rarely outright disappointing.

The lyrical content follows a similar pattern - on the main, it's workmanlike. But there are moments of piqued interest - like "Slow down boy, you'll wear yourself thin. You gotta come back inside your skin," from "So Alive," and "I confess I'm a mess, but honey you know that you know me best," from "The Things You See In Me."

The Low Point
Imagine the most generic slow rock tune about love lost possible. Awesome, you've just imagined track 10, "Sunshine After Rain."

Pleasant Surprises
The intro of the first track completely oversells the album; it's a great rock intro, suspense-building, pulse-quickening and expertly delivered, saturated in reverb and slow-building. Unfortunately, it evolves into a fairly repetitive, bland track.

Breakdown On Interstate 80 contains this lyrical gem: "Last night was Gabe's down in Iowa City, a waste of a 4-hour drive/A touring bill of the Twin Cities' finest played for a roomful of five." The ability to laugh at yourself in your own song is classic Minnesota self-deprecation, captured beautifully.

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