Friday, August 6, 2010

Eastern Surf Magazine review of MICROTIA

The way Microtia physically releases their albums is cool. They use old cigarette boxes and beer case cardboard to fashion their records and merchandise — 1,650 beers and 2,500 cigarettes for Spacemaker alone — they supposedly make their own instruments, they present themselves really well visually, and they would seemingly be up to the challenge of making a power play with Spacemaker. Unfortunately, this Portland quartet falls just short.

Microtia’s intentions are good, as they self-describe their creation story as “pump[ing] Bj√∂rk with 400 CCs of testosterone and put[ting] her in a rough-edged rock band,” but their attempt to move far from the soft and defining sound of the Pacific Northwest has left the band placing upon us a release that sounds more like a late ‘90s Nickelback album or Creed torture session, not a palatable prog-rock album.

The name Microtia is possibly derived from a congenital deformity that messes up one’s ear, to put it lightly. If this is the case, then I get it, because ears and loud music and shit getting damaged makes sense. But I wouldn’t have been the first of the band members to jump on board and start chanting the name out of excitement. There were probably a couple of guys in the group who sat back when the name came up and said to themselves in a hushed grumble, “Man, I’m in another band named after a disease.”

I agree with a lot of what seems to buzz around Spacemaker. The instrumental talent from keyboardist Dan Roberts, bassist Oliver Merson, and drummer Tim Steiner is a tidal bore of power, but Eric Leskovar’s vocals drown out his raw guitar and the heavy, well-played drum and bass lines that would be otherwise enjoyable. “Pocket Full Of Bee Stings” is the one song I found on Spacemaker that allowed Leskovar’s incredible guitar work to cut through his vocal wake. Microtia earns high marks for sustainable creativity and DIY awesomeness, but barely passes on the strength of their music alone. By Will Tunstall

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