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  Green Arke  
  The Transmissions  
Release Date:
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It's fairly common in music criticism to suggest how a current band sounds like someone who came before. Previously on EvilSponge, I've written that comparisons to Pavement are so ubiquitous than that are meaningless. Likewise, I myself have used comparisons ranging from the Archers of Loaf to Bettie Serveert to The Creation in my reviews. However, in listening to the self-released Green Arke EP by The Transmissions, I found myself making a new musical comparison. But more on that in a minute.

Anyway, The Transmissions are a young band out of Southern California. On this four song EP, they recorded as a three piece combo consisting of the usual guitar, bass, and drums. Admittedly, the recording itself suffers from many of the production flaws you find in young bands: the vocals are way up front in the mix, the bass is barely audible, and the drums only show up sonically on some of the tracks. However, despite these flaws, I can hear others' music in The Transmissions' work.

I first noticed this tendency on the first track, called Earthquake. This song begins with some nice offbeat drumming and echoed vocals in the post-punk vein before the music changes into a more straight-up rock tune during the chorus, with the repeated cry of "I'm not alright." The combination of these two distinct musical elements creates something a little different in tone; however, when I was listening to it, I could swear that the bass-line seems vaguely familiar. But I wasn't able to place the musical influence.

However, on the second song, I knew who The Transmissions reminded me of: Modest Mouse. In fact, from the opening arpeggios of Devil Song, I could swear I was listening to the long lost brother of Dramamine (off Modest Mouse's 1996 album, This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About). I suppose this was bound to happen. Back when I first heard them in 1996, Modest Mouse struck me as something unusual. And with the critical acclaim of some of their later albums, it shouldn't surprise me that bands would also find the sound compelling. But this is the first time I've personally heard a band I would term as Modest Mouse-influenced. And it's sort of a weird thing, considering that with my hazy grasp of time, I will always think of Modest Mouse as a "young band" themselves and not as a group that might influence a new musical generation of Indie Rock.

But I digress.

After Devil Song, I could hear the Modest Mouse influence in the next tune, Leaving You Out. However, I pushed those thoughts to the side, so that I could listen to this song on its own merits. Unfortunately, although I liked the music, Leaving You Out is the one song on which the production problems overshadow my enjoyment of the music. For instance, I rather like the sharp, hard drumming and the way the bass line seems to hold everything together. But these touches are more or less drowned out by the vocals. Likewise, the rhythm change on the bridge on Leaving You Out should be the focal point of the song, but it too is over-shadowed by the vocals on that part of the song.

The final song on Green Arke is the mandatory slow song, called Idle. Like the previous music, it too has a Modest Mouse influence, especially in the Isaac Brock-like vocals. Furthermore, the off-beat post-punk drumming masks the fact that the music is a simple 4/4 riff, and not a more complex time signature. This isn't a bad thing by any means; it's just that I want The Transmissions to expand and reach (and perhaps fail) instead of staying within the strict confines of normal music.

Anyway, my feeling on The Transmissions' Green Arke EP is somewhat mixed. It is definitely very solid. The band is clearly quite competent at their instruments and, despite the overt musical influences, it's clear they know how to craft a melody and then execute it. However, the Modest Mouse sound is a bit overwhelming, especial on Devil Song, and distracts from my ability to enjoy the EP. One hopes that, in the future, The Transmissions will instead develop their own sound and branch out further from their musical influences.

Related Links:
  Their website, wherein you can order the EP.  

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