split with words for snow full-length cd magnolia/knockout fly 7" live reviews

  Words for Snow / Tristan da Cunha split CD

from Lost at Sea

It is a sad fact that when given a split album, I will always compare one side to the other. This divided effort is no exception, marking the highs higher and the lows lower, but such is life. Here, we begin with a lull before the explosion.
Words for Snow loves Tortoise and Fugazi. In my mind, there resonates a bratty "Who doesn’t?" To be frank, their sound lies flat to knowing ears. I’ve heard it, and there is scant to delineate their effort as special. Many of the songs are long and dragged-out, with intermittent loud blasts doing little to draw attention. In a particular example of catatonic rock, the repetitive bass behind "My Uncle" spurts out in sets of threes, sounding more like my alarm clock than anything that would be appreciated in a sleepy state. When vocals infiltrate on songs like "Rome," it works against their favor – the power that lies somewhat untapped underneath their surprisingly slow instrumental work seems dashed by silly, trying bleats. Unfortunately, "Rome" would be their best track, hinting at momentum and sparkle to catch the listener off guard, but the whines and screams peppered about is entirely unwanted.
On the flipside, when Tristan Da Cunha introduces themselves, I shot upright in attention. Their vocals and instruments purposely lie unmatched, as the temporal rift never closes to anything symmetrical. They remind me immediately of El Guapo – who I admittedly do not like, but whose skittery spasms are curious oddities I can’t help but stare at from the side of the road. "Apple’s Got Sauce" is a black-eyed beating I’ve come to be proud of. "No Great Shakes" isn’t afraid to wail and let lose in glamorous struts, and by the time I have taken the bait of such sexy egotism, "Happy Playtime" cuddles my personality fully. The freak show has captured my sense of wonder, as I cave in to something upbeat, bounding on the corners of responsible, deep and fun. Once I memorize the words to this song, there is no doubt I’ll be singing it in my car, and I am surprisingly taken by what might otherwise feel atonal or bizarre.
Whereas Words for Snow’s tracks were ineffectively catered to a fan like me, whose love for post-rock knows few bounds; Tristan Da Cunha’s tracks would ordinarily shun me away, yet have a strangely captivating quality. As a result, this fits alongside so many other split CDs in my collection, where one half will get played, and the other will get lost in the cobwebs. Those who wade through the front end will be rewarded, and those who don’t make it that far will be none the wiser to what could have been.

- Sarah Iddings

from www.smother.net

Usually splits have a good song or two by both bands if they’re lucky, in this case they’re the grand prize winners and have 9 great songs by the two bands combined. How many tracks are there then you ask? Nine. Yes that’s right every song on this split is a gem and worth the money for the CD by itself. You almost want to call up the record label and say "I’m sorry but you’re going to have to charge me more for that I was only really paying for a couple good songs I didn’t know I’d get more than my money’s worth". But don’t worry I don’t think The Losing Blueprint will be changing the prices anytime soon. And fortunately for the music fans out there it’s not like this album is some sort of connoisseur’s pick; there truly are songs that most everyone would be happy to hear. Words for Snow are kind of like math rock with a sense for pop’s inabilities and lacks while finding its appeal and putting that to good use. Tristan da Cunha puts together a few live songs and shows that they can do what they do in the studio live just as well if not a bit better. Great set of music for cheap!

- J-Sin

  self-titled full-length

from indieville.com

A while back I reviewed another Losing Blueprint record, Fiesel's The Ruins of This Life.  I praised its fantastic,angular sound and the amazing power it boasted.  It was one 2002's better albums.  And then the time came to give another Losing Blueprint act a listen.  album. Tristan Da Cunha.  Their self-titled debut album. Ooh boy.

They call it "scientist rock."  Or, rather, "mad scientist rock."  This, of course, because of the complicated time measures and the meticulously fine-tweaked, complex sound.  And the "rock" part - well, that's because they really do rock.  I mean seriously.  You've all heard your fair share of "math rock" out there - lots of is just as boring as all heck.  But what Tristan Da Cunha have done - well, they've mixed their complicated sound with a much more primal, thrilling style.  Beneath the complexity, they attack the ears with a barrage of jerky rhythms, blasting guitar, and fine-ass melody.  It's kind of like a more vibrant Faraquet.

To pick out particular tracks is a worthless exercise.  The songs flow together so perfectly that, hey, "Jesus Marches With a Little Spider" and "Narcosynthesis" may have different names, and may be completely different songs, but their spasmodic, crazy sounds go hand-in-hand.  Who wants to classify?  This music is for listening, bitch.

And I guess that's the essence of this whole record.  You listen, you enjoy, and in the end you're so friggin' fried by the music that you don't want to examine what you've just heard.  You just sit up, put your finger down on the little forward-triangle, and let the speakers work their magic.


- Matt Shimmer

from www.splendidezine.com

Crazed math-rock from a Boston trio evokes everyone from the Fall to the Dismemberment Plan to Superchunk. Tristan da Cunha plays an angular festival of forced-march riffs, tromping up and down terrain that changes with every measure. They build a psychotic, strobe-lighted disco where dancers fall to the ground in exhausted frenzy after trying to dance to misshapen but insistent beats. They can't help but bust stuff up, even in the slower songs, but they're using space-age radar guns, not brute force, to wreak havoc.

Most of the tracks pit the vocalist's mad spoken-word rants over the fractalized anarchy of guitar, drums and bass. Cuts like "Jesus Marches with a Little Spider" and "Too Many Boats" have a disturbing internal logic that doesn't quite map to the real world. It's a little like Mark E. Smith might sound if he hired Superchunk for a backing band and told them to put one to three extra beats in every measure.

The best tracks -- standouts include "Song Number Three", "Little White Sneakers" and "Narcosynthesis" -- are the more melodic ones, blending occasionally-syrupy harmonies with the bracing acerbity of off-balance drums and odd lyrics. "Little White Sneakers", for instance, contains an extended section where the singer repeatings the phrase "I'll push you off the mat", which makes it a song about either wrestling or some kind of weird sexual ritual -- or maybe, god help us, a little of both. Similarly, "Re: Maeve (Everybody Knows)", despite its quiet, fairly lyric opening, soon degenerates (or blossoms, depending on how you look at things) into a fast rant of "Everybody knows / The French make the best music / Everybody knows / The Swiss make the best chocolate..." The whole thing is bizarrely compelling, because the singer barks out these lines like they are crucial information, the kind of thing we will run into real trouble without knowing.

This is dance music from a parallel universe. This is poetry fresh out of an insane asylum. This is rock and roll filtered through a prism into extraterrestrial rainbows. This is not a test. This is Tristan da Cunha.

- Jennifer Kelly

from www.TinyMixTapes.com

Damn, it amazes me how strong first releases of many up-and-coming bands can be sometimes. Boston-based Tristan da Cunha's debut eponymous LP is yet another example of three youngsters writing fresh music that manages to hit you where it hurts, which is in the fucking groin. And it's relentless. Throughout its eight tracks, the trio treks through truckloads of triangular tunes that track the territorial tenants of its ilk. But this tracking doesn't necessarily imply never crossing paths. Truthfully, there's little legroom for originality, considering nearly every song criss-crosses paths with the likes of Les Savy Fav ("Song Number Three"), Dismemberment Plan ("Re: Maeve (Everybody Knows)"), Sweep the Leg Johnny ("Jesus Marches with a Little Spider"), Faraquet ("Post-Adolescent Philosophy"), etc. But what sets Tristan apart from the more well-known angular math rock bands is that they make each minute count, leaving little treats every couple minutes for sticking with them-- and it makes it all worthwhile. Periodically, they'll do something that seems completely out of sync but, in retrospect, makes perfect sense. Album highlight "Too Many Boats" is a prime example. Don't know what I'm talking about, do you? Well, listen for yourself. If this album was on one of the double D's (Dischord, DeSoto), indie rockers everywhere would be eating this shit up. However, with the few bands I've heard so far from the label Losing Blueprint, I say fuck the D.C. scene and make room for more alternative voices! Let's march!

- mr. p

from mish mash indie music reviews

Do you like noise? Louder the better? Tristan Da Cunha is your band. From the same vein of rock that started with Fugazi and evolved into Rage Against the Machine and At The Drive In, TDC gets in your face as doesn't let up until they're through pummelling you with riff after riff.
The disc opens with the unforgiving Jesus Marches With A Little Spider, a nonsense title for a track that simply knocks the senses out of you. Jumpy rhythms and dynamic swings dominate in Re: Maeve (Everybody Knows), which segues into a driving full throttle bridge about halfway through.
This album is all about the juxtaposition of quiet and sheer volume, understated guitar lines meeting the sonic onslaught of pounding drums. It's messy, but it's one lovely mess.
MISH MASH Mandate: Rock And A Hard Place

from The Northeast Performer

"I don't care about the mutant chickens!” cries the opening line of “Jesus Marches with a Little Spider,” the lead track of this self-titled debut effort from Tristan Da Cunha. It would lead you to believe that the album has the capability of being a little demented, and you would not be wrong in such an assumption. The lyrics remain abstract throughout the remainder of the album, but not quite as peculiar as the aforementioned line. I admit that I cited it mainly to grab your attention, much as the band uses it to pull you in from the start. But these songs are not simple narratives, and will take a good deal of puzzling over to understand. “Everybody knows the French make the best music! Everybody knows the Swiss make the best cheese!” Luckily, the vocals are easily palatable, from the calm crooning to the wilder screeches, so even if the oddball lyrics occasionally throw you off, it's not for very long. The same goes for the angular guitar work. There are times when the melodies are gently plucked and laid out for you, but those moments are vastly overshadowed by speedy screeches and howls. The rhythms are equally frantic, with hardly a single one of them lasting for more than a few seconds before it either erupts into a wall of noise or completely turns itself inside out and switches directions. But the album isn't quite the chaotic mess you may imagine. Songs like “Re: Maeve (Everybody Knows)” feature some rather coherent grooves that hold everything together. There are also occasional moments of downright melodic rock, but they usually don't last terribly long and are often beaten to death by the craziness that follows. In the end, Tristan Da Cunha is a worthy addition to the overpopulated “post-rock” crowd. The band doesn't do anything remarkable enough to set itself apart from the slew of comparable acts, but it doesn't let things get out of control, knowing how to rock in a crafty and intelligent way.

- Eddie Fournier

from fakejazz.com

You ever wonder why so much of the photographry on Dischord releases and in their catalogs is in black and white? I'm pretty sure color photography existed back in the late 80s when Fugazi released their self-titled album and the "3 Songs" 7". So why do both have black and white photos on the cover? Why is so much of Instrument black and white? Was it just more punk to be archaic? Or was it something about distilling the images to black and white which better conveyed the feeling of the music and scene at that time?

Fifteen years later and post-punk is having a sort of come-back, but few make direct references to all the DC bands, perhaps because Fugazi was able to stay relevant for so long while most of the British and New York bands simply came and went. Well, Tristan da Cunha hasn't forgotten about DC hardcore. They play it fast, hard, and loud, but in a completely anti-fasionable yet accessible way. Ask Tristan da Cunha about the black and white Dischord photos, and they'd read the feeling of isolation that was such a part of the underground hardcore scene of that time. Even their band name riffs off this feeling of isolation, as Tristan da Cunha is a name of an island due west from South Africa that Guiness marks as the "most isolated inhabited island in the world."

So the key question is, when I listen to Tristan da Cunha's reinterpretation of 15 year old DC hardcore, do I feel nostalgic? Do I feel and appreciate it on its own merits? Or am I just disinterested? Turns out its more of the latter. While the band has energy and a moderate amount of chops, many of the songs here use a funk-like jittery rhythmic style that mildly annoys and spoken, easily-overpowered vocals that fail to demand the listener's attention. I appreciate what they're trying to do, but I just couldn't get into it.

- Jim Steed

from The Noise

This is your basic three-guys-who-decided-to-go-buy-instruments-and-start-a-band-because-they-were-bored-outta-their-tits-and-as-a-result-have-nothing-worthwhile-to-say-about-anything-so-they-try-to-be-artsy-to-make-up-for-it-and-write-a-bunch-of-largely-unlistenable-scattershot-crap-with-awful-song-titles-about-stuff-like-Jesus-Marching-With-Spiders-and-Little-White-Sneakers-and-Too-Many-Boats-and-Narcosynthesis-and-even-something-called-Post-Adolsecent-Philosophy-(!!!)-and-do-lotsa-screwy-time-signatures-for-no-apparent-reason-with-lotsa-pointless-stop-and-start-moments-that-sound-like-they-wanna-be-fIREHOSE-and-a-cover-painting-of-something-I-think-is-either-a-bleached-corndog-or-an-ottoman-and-no-one-in-the-band-is-actually-named-Tristan-Da-Cunha-and-let's-be-as-oblique-and-indirect-and-skewed-and-indecipher-able-and-grating-and-"energetic"-as-possible-and-see-if-anyone-actually-falls-for-this-shit-kinda-record.

- Joe Coughlin

from www.smother.net

Tristan da Cunha is a threesome from Boston that announces their presence with chaotic but not obscure modern rock using loud drums and a new approach to melody. While not profoundly harmonic, Tristan uses this to their advantage with the sound that all the `The` bands are trying for now but without falling flat on their lego-inspired-videos faces. Certainly Tristan isn`t a record company`s wet dream but they`re the indie rocker who enjoys knowing more about music and philosophy than how to get out of their parents` basement is shopping musty record shops looking desperately for that clichéd disc. But hey that ain`t all that bad and neither is a handful of songs on this disc with “Song Number Three” clearly being the winner.

- J-Sin

  Magnolia / Knockout Fly 7 inch

from Punk Planet #49, May/June 2002:

Geeky-funk-punk. Dude, the backup singer sounds straight outta Supernova.
If these guys were playing in your house they would be knocking all kinds
of shit over. Weird and enjoyale. (JG)

  show reviews

So, Steve Gisselbrecht writes a review of every show he sees, and he's been to nearly every show we've played in Boston lately. You can read his reviews here.

from The Noise (Nov 03)
Francis Kim Band, Starr Faithfull, Tristan da Cunha, Audrey Ryan Band
T.T. the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA
October 8, 2003
Truly a tough act to follow. As it turns out, Tristan da Cunha are my new favorite band. They make me think of Devo faithfully covering the double-trio lineup of King Crimson, and that's just the first song. And they're a three-piece. Fuck math rock; this is n-dimensional topology rock. I count 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, IN ONE SONG. And, oh yeah, they're really good, too. They don't just hang on for these wild rides, they sell them. The guitarist has Sonic Youth, Shellac, and (above all) The Boredoms under his belt, and can sing a delicate high harmony at need. The bassist does most of the singing, and he's really good, with a strong voice and a dramatic style that really connects with the (scant) audience. The drummer is a finely crafted machine. And just when I think the bag of tricks must surely be empty, the guitarist and drummer switch places for the last song, and damned if they're not wild and weird and excellent on those instruments too.
- Steve Gisselbrecht..

excerpted from The Northeast Performer (Nov 2000)
Tristan da Cunha, Longwave, The Migration Trap
T.T. the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA
October 10, 2000
It could not have been called a typical evening, yet it was not nearly as unusual as some I've seen. It was an evening of the fiery yet comforting, the smooth and poppy yet eerie, and the downright schizophrenic. It was, above all, an evening of things which could not be easily classified. The first order of business was a disturbing new local trio who referred to themselves as Tristan da Cunha. Accusing them of schizophrenia may actually be going a little too far. They didn't spend much time playing by the rules, and there was enough insanity in their music to fill two or three looney bins, but every once in a while, without warning, they conjured up a perfect harmony, a moment of tranquility even, and there wasn't a moment that went by that the three musicians didn't have themselves completely under control. Notes, beats and breaks flew by in a flurry of clashing times signatures, and when it was all said and done, it all added up, somehow. Very nice, though not at all for the faint of heart

- Luke Pyles