Live Review
Cymbals Eat Guitars
The Garage
Islington, London

Photography by Jason Williamson

One strain of American rock that’s never quite made a successful transition into British music is the sub genre known, in typically contradictory fashion, as ‘slacker rock’: superficially loose yet nerdily exacting, hyper-literate yet loves to play dumb, boisterously poppy yet with guitars always a smidge out of tune. Staten Island band Cymbals Eat Guitars, who put out their second album ‘Lenses Alien’ last August, have added their own generation’s angsty inflections to a marginal update on the suburban slacker sound, so instead of slouchy Gen-X ennui their live performance ripples with the muscular professionalism of a small town band with its eye on the prize. Singer Joe D’Agostino switches from a sing to a scream, with not so much the geek-goes-postal attitude of Stephen Malkmus as with the gelled finesse of Dave Grohl, while keys, bass and drums provide a heavyweight backdrop like a houseful of Modest Mice. Clever, unpredictable songs with clever, cryptic lyrics don’t always register in a noisy low-ceilinged room, but the dedicated air-punchers at the front suggest that CEG’s killer tour schedule and word-of-blog buzz is paying off, little by little. Recession era music, eh? Even the slackers are working too hard.

By Chal Ravens

Originally published in issue 34 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. January 2012