Sunday, February 15, 2009

Album Review: Millions of Brazilians

Half Horse/Half Horse EP (Baby Moses)

As gritty as it is pretty, muscled and square-off-ish as it is glitzy and graceful – Detroit trio Millions of Brazilians have, since they first showed up a year and a half ago, shown an encouraging knack for that often-British-associated blend of danceable shreddy/rocky/guitar-heavy pop. Drummer Zoz (Christopher Gruse) brings hard-pound-wheel-around drums like a flurry of bullets ricocheted around a subway tunnel, with dueling guitars that perch at distant but complimenting poles, singer Nick Cicchetti flies higher-toned cutting guitars that recall a grimace-y 80's metal type shred or maybe a Radiohead-esque space-out solo, while Derek Dorey brings a more burly, burning low-end that emulates a bass and grinds a more metallic but mesmerizing wavy rhythm – spackled with the cool swagger of sexy low-range fuzzed-out vocals that can slyly flit up to a falsetto...

It all rings close to that looking-good-on-the-dancefloor-esque brand of bacchanalian-British-style-post-punk that flared up after Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party came about in the mid 00's (the wild and wavy "Countdown")…But, that simplification would be a disservice to their more intricate, experimental moments, particularly in Zoz's ability to blend tightly-locked snap crack and shamble, hard-hitting drums with a loose, hip-shaking tribalism ("Oh Happy Dagger") and also the wicked waltz of Cicchetti and Dorey's intertwining lead guitars (the shimmering 2nd chorus of "Vermont"). There's a bit of that rambunctious blunted-punk style, yes, that grind-out-yer-ya-ya's sort of dance-rock, but it's enhanced by penchants for more earnest, theatrical prog-rock, ala Muse or maybe even the more unabashedly fun or, more aptly put, confidence, of We Are Scientists.

Indeed, confidence – you can tell this is a band that's not hung up on preconceptions, or impressing anyone. Aside from all that fuzzy rock gunk, they explore softer, more atmospheric (even electro-leaning) balladry with the dreamy drift of "Armenia" and the funk-inflected buzz blurts of the first half of "Only Thing You're In Love"). They love experimenting with rhythm and searching for the biggest booming, mind-melting guitar riff – and then hitting the gas with whatever's in the tank, regardless of what's in the road ahead…Dance-rock? Metal-y-new-wave? Prog-y-post-punk? Don't get too hung up on it. Just have fun…

Release show - 2 / 21 at the Pike Room, Pontiac (released on Baby Moses Records)

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