Lobot, If It's You It's Me | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Lobot, If It's You It's Me 

Published November 16, 2005 at 1:17 a.m.

(Self-released, CD)

Burlington's Lobot are possibly the most unabashedly rock-centric band in the area. Unlike other B-town acts, there's not even a hit of jam, jazz, shoegazer, indie-pop or alt-country in their music. With densely layered, snarling guitars and darkly melodic vocals, the quartet's sophomore release, If It's You, It's Me, sounds like a cross between British neo-proggers Muse and American psych-metal architects Jane's Addiction.

Balls-out live performances and a snarky offstage demeanor have won Lobot notoriety on the local scene. The group's spookily serious tunes are offset by an obsession with nerdy juvenilia. Example: They took their name from a minor character in The Empire Strikes Back. Remember the sexually obsessed comic-book geeks in your study hall? Apparently, they started a band.

Drummer/vocalist/keyboardist Dave Wendell's thundering percussive work and soaring vocals form the bedrock of Lobot's muscular sound. Guitarists Dave Putrain and Chris Farnsworth ably handle their six-string duties, providing evocative and well-placed riffs and leads. Bassist Ian MacDowell holds down the low end with equal inventiveness.

Recorded at the "Lobot Lair" by Corbin Smith, the record is, for a local effort, well produced. Opener "Very Best Day" begins with a guitar figure reminiscent of Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" before exploding across the stereo field like aural napalm. The following track, "Lights of Montreal," makes ace use of a Joy Division-esque bass line and guitar harmonics. On this track Wendell's vocals are reminiscent of Brian Molko, leader of English depressives Placebo.

MacDowell's dub-infused, start-stop bass figure on "The Cyprian" provides plenty of space for the guitarists to indulge themselves. Brief, backwards passages and nervous chiming are met by Wendell's vocal, which sounds a like a banshee singing a madrigal. Interestingly, it all works.

"You Bleed, I Buy" features guest violin work by Emily Rose Curin. While the tune's intro and verse sections are captivating, its hook is rather too big. There's a fine line between quality arena rock and the cheeseball variety, and Lobot walk it here. Subsequent track "The Killing Drifter" finds the band unleashing chugging riffs and a disquieting vocal, while closer "4D7" is a raggedy garage rocker whose strength is its simplicity.

If you like darkly atmospheric rock, If It's You, It's Me is sure to impress. Sludgy, sinister and surprisingly melodic, Lobot are a unique breed. Hear them with Morningwood at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge on Thursday, November 17.

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About The Author

Casey Rea

Casey Rea

Casey Rea was the Seven Days music editor from 2004 until 2007. He won the 2005 John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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