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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

taking a listen

reviews of local & state music CDs

TIN STAR — Bettie Lane

There’s a kind of disquieting air about Durham indie-wave quartet Tin Star’s (www. myspace.com/tinstarnc) six-track debut album Bettie Lane that lends itself to the languorous, gloomy sounds to which defiant teens in the ’80s would hole up in their bedrooms and hate their lives, parents, peers, etc. Like the Smiths’ Meat Is Murder or Lou Reed’s Berlin, the album is characterized by a distinctly anthropophobic temperament laid atop layers of droning reverb that nearly drowns out the subtle complexities beneath. The titular opening track is a sad song in a happy package, seeing vocalist and Winston-Salem transplant Jamie Miyares affect a haughty British patois like a trashy accessory to be worn and disposed of at her pleasure. “Socially Distressed” plays exactly as the title suggests: a Smithian (Robert, that is) examination on crippling social phobias whose instrumental track owes a huge debt to the Cure. “False Friends” carries the paranoia-will-destroya mantra further, as they finally crank the tempo down a half step and experiment agreeably with the contrast between loud and soft melodies. Bettie Lane as a whole is propelled by its expertly crafted melodies and the soothing voice of Miyares, but those prescribed medication for depression should listen in small doses.

77/100

ISRAEL DARLING — Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands

Coming up in Appalachia can be a lonely and often vexing experience for many, and Jacob Darden experienced all there was to experience and then some in the tiny town of Drexel. Sometimes great inspiration can result from those kinds of extreme circumstances and I’m not hesitant to say that his debut as Israel Darling (www.myspace.com/israeldarling), Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands, should fall into that category. It is an immediately engaging album that keeps its momentum up from the first track to the last, while taking great thematic risks in the material he chooses to explore — specifically religion and drug addiction — but doing so with utter care and to stirring effect. The album itself is distinguished equally by its dabbling in country melodies dosed with heavy synth as it is by its rhythmic schizophrenia. But it’s Darden’s love of shout-along choruses that abate the intensity of lines like “I lost two best friends/ they were trying out for that American Dream” (“Woman, God and Pity for a Man”) and “Anywhere I stand, I’m standing in piss/ what if God himself didn’t want me to exist” (“Billy Walker”) that truly give Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands its gravity.

90/100

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