Snowden @ Southpaw, Brooklyn 8/26/06

Brooklyn’s Southpaw is the sort of rock club that the “locals” take inordinate pride in pointing you to as you ask for directions (below the numbers on 5th Ave. in Park Slope, if you care). And due to the threat of drizzle — and a set at Sin-e a few nights earlier (keeping the Manhattanites at bay)– these proud denizens of the Slope were precisely the people Snowden was playing for: the foot traffic of a burgeoning neighborhood, the brave souls that spent their Saturday night wandering in to check out whatever act was gracing their beloved stage that night; a casual man-on-the-street crowd, Pitchfork and blog love bedamned. Good thing, then, that Snowden’s Anti-Anti is such a kick ass record.

Rarely have we come across a band that belongs in NYC any more — and this ain’t the sort of astute observation solely built on lyrics that speak to “a princess in a window in SoHo.” Snowden sounds like the band you’d want to hear if you wandered into a bar just off Essex below Houston. There’s that indifferent vocal tone, carrying infectious melodies over a warm, lo-fi kick drum sound, overdriven bass and arty, reverb-doused guitars. With each slowly-building song structure, each set of handclap-laden drum-and-vocal breaks, and each chiming, dance-wave guitar ride out, the band’s keen sense of craft is obvious. Yet these devices — and Jordan’s urban-weary tone — can’t mask the substance beyond the style.

The irony is that the group lay their heads in Atlanta, a deception as simple as it is dangerous; this band is far from feigning a fad. Lyrics that paint tales of disingenuous lovers and disheartening social scenes shouldn’t be this danceable, and the songs are just too good to dismiss. Snowden has just released one of the best debuts we’ve heard all year. Take these tunes as Exhibit A.

Snowden – “Between The Rent And Me” (MP3 Link Expired)
Snowden – “Anti-Anti” (MP3)

True, the record has twelve songs when it could have ten, and some songs stretch to five minutes when they should be four. But seeing Snowden live — where there’s new urgency injected from beefed up kit work and their solid stage presence — made short shrift of that critique. We wanted even more.

“But do they have soul?” was a concern voiced via IM when we were rounding up troops for the trek to BK. You bet your sweet ass they do. For all the discussion of concept, geography, and songcraft, it’s the heart pulsing through the reverb that makes Anti-Anti a must-listen.