Due to their seemingly unquenchable desire to cram influence after influence into their music, California’s Crystal Antlers could play on every chin-stroking bill you’ve ever seen and yet never feel completely at home on any of them. They’re a psych band that are too aggressive to be hippies, exploring erratic time signatures, avant-garde, progressive jazz (here, on the sax-squealing ‘Always Afraid’), bar-band barks, noise guitars and the type of sloshed punk-folk peddled by Titus Andronicus.

They make a lot of noise; it’s just never really jelled into something you can make head nor tail of. ‘Two-Way Mirror’ is their second album, and it’s definitely the band at their most concise – a world away from their proggy, self-indulgent early recordings, and more listenable than 2009’s ‘Tentacles’, coming and going in a flurry of cymbal crashes and desperate cries that also carry with them almost pop hooks (‘Summer Solstice’), and a lurching waltz (‘Seance’). They do, however, still have a better album in them.

By Austin Laike

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