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  Young Antiques  
  2 Sheds  
Release Date:
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I’ve been anticipating this Young Antiques album for two years. In 2000, the band released its first full-length cd, Wardrobe for a Jet Weekend, and it displayed some of the best songwriting in Atlanta. I truly believed that their follow-up, Clockworker, could only be better. I heard a demo of three new songs awhile back and was very pleased. I was even more excited when they got signed on to one of Evilsponge’s favorite labels, 2 Sheds Records. The future looked bright, indeed.

Accordingly, the first two tracks on Clockworker are almost the same as the demo. The first of those, The Winning Season, is as strong as the band’s earlier work: clear melody, roots-rock sound, nice lyrical ballad. Definitely the most accomplished song on the album. The second track, Porcelain is another well-designed piece that features the powerful driving drums of the band’s newest member, John Speaks. However, Porcelain is tainted by something I have never heard on an indie label record: profanity editing. The song is a crisply recorded rock anthem, and in the demo, it featured an angry lyric that ended with the word “shit.” But in the label release, the word has been edited out completely. I’m not sure what the band’s motive was for this self-censorship, but I suspect they may have been trying to make the song more “radio friendly.” (Ironically, a later song on Clockworker includes the infamous f-word which is clearly audible, making this editing choice even more specious.) Regardless, the censoring is a great disappointment, and that annoyance factor merits the loss of one sponge rating alone.

Perhaps I could forgive the band’s ill-advised self-censoring if the rest of Clockworker left me enthralled, but such is not the case. The next seven tracks take a decidedly different turn from the first two -- and from the band’s earlier album. In their press release, the Young Antiques state that Clockworker is a sort of live concept album, and this concept seems to begin on the third track, Adore. Whereas the first two songs display the band’s fine ability to mix a variety of sounds with Blake Rainey’s passionate lyrics and mahogany voice, the rest of the album is a whirlwind of short, fast, power-pop songs that sound like a poorly mixed live EP rather than a full-length album.

Many of the tracks, such as Adore and Holiday are fuzzed-out guitar rock with unispired melodies. Rainey’s vocals, usually the highlight of the band’s appeal, often sound far away, as if he were recorded singing in another room. Sadly, too, his subtle, deep voice is not well suited for belting out lyrics over the loud guitar and often seems on the verge of cracking rather than crooning. However, some songs like Little to the Left and On a Planet work fairly well as pseudo-live tracks—the former because of its catchy chorus and the latter because it features Rainey solo with a guitar, offering his voice a moment of spotlight. Is It On?, the only song credited to the entire band, offers high-tempo rock that should show off Speaks’ fast, tight drumming (evident in all their live shows), but it, too, would have benefited from a clearer recording with more intricate mixing.

All in all, if this were the band’s first album, or perhaps if it weren’t a successor to the accomplished Wardrobe for a Jet Weekend, it would be impressive enough. But, having heard the Young Antiques play these songs live many times, I was hoping for a few new surprises, or at least some unique studio arrangement. But alas, no. And, weighing in at only 26 minutes long total and only eight actual songs, I am left wanting more from Clockworker and the Young Antiques.

Related Links:

On A Beach On A Mountain, the intial EP from Young Antiques.
Wardrobe for a Jet Weekend, the 'Tiques debut LP.


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