Wednesday, December 16, 2009

decibel magazine on PRIZE COUNTRY ..with love

Prize Country
...With Love

Love ain’t real unless you get ellipses in your album name | Hex

If Prize Country’s second full-length doesn’t immediately transport you back to 1995, you probably weren’t alive in 1995. The Portland band is so reminiscent of noisy post-punk kings Drive Like Jehu and the entire mid ’90s Dischord roster that I feel like I’m living with my parents again when I’m listening to them. And you know what? That’s just dandy. The scrappy vocals, propulsive rhythms and melodic-cum-abrasive guitar charges may be 15 years behind the curve, but this stuff sounds every bit as urgent as Bluetip and Jawbox did ’roundabout my Bar Mitzvah.

Ballsier than your average noise rock band, but not quite heavy enough to qualify as metal, Prize Country bamboozle with guitars that slither and surge against each other and their impeccable rhythm section. On “Gamble,” the slice ‘n’ dice yields to a maddeningly catchy hook (we even get some handclaps on “Cement”). Otherwise …With Love is all right angles and tire skids, all the time.

With the exception of the Shiner-esque title track, which serves up pretty harmonies and ninth chords to soften the edges, Prize Country basically write variations on the same yelpy, mid-tempo, minor key post-punk song over and over again. But that one song is freakin’ awesome, and over the years they’ve gotten increasingly good at writing it. Maybe progress ain’t so important to a band so rooted in a past musical era as Prize Country. And if water-treading sounds as good as Prize Country do on …With Love, maybe progress shouldn’t be so important to us, either.

—Etan Rosenbloom

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