Album Review - Long, Long, Long

Long, Long, Long - s/t

Long, Long, Long (or Long Long Long, or LongLongLong?) continue the phys-rock freakout tradition of York Redoubt with a new drummer (Dog Day's Rob Shedden) and more grainy, in your face riffs that twist and turn faster than your mind can keep up, sometimes.
The opening track, Thoughts on Declaring Victory over The Sun kicks off with classic off kilter rhythms before cutting into jabbering, circusy vocals that confuse you even further. Then out of nowhere it's back to catchy riffs and dirty vocals. It's a theme that repeats throughout the album, but it never gets old as these guys never seem to run out of riffs.

The next track starts with more space-surf guitar riffs. It's just shy of a minute long but packs intense drumming and square-wave tempo shifts with catchy vocals, done in a dizzying array of styles.
Everything is really sharp here – the guitars, the drums, very high and and crispy. The bass takes most of the low space with a sliver of kick drum. Any lack of fidelity (intended or otherwise) is easily made up for by the strength with which the instruments are played.

The third track throws a hint of field recording/sample at us before moving into fast arpeggios with seemingly no percussion accompaniment until thick, tight drums and bass come in. More bendy, washy riffs sound like Radiohead style space rock, until new guitar hooks almost hark back to 90's Canadian Radio Rock, though the surroundings keep you firmly grounded in 2010.
A long pause suddenly before the track jumps in more electronic sounding riffs, and then your stereo starts to glitch like a dying gramophone. There's clearly more thought going into these songs than just melodies and chords, and it's nice to hear some ideas on a record that actually work with the music.
It's definitely one of the more 'futurist' records I've heard since Battles' Atlas, though in a totally different way. Just when you think there's nothing truly original left to say in music, along comes a band like LLL.

Track four, the amazingly titled Goose is Dead, Maverick, Goose is Dead (Throw his chains off the aircraft carrier) is probably one of the best songs on the album. Pin point vocals stab from left and right, as scales ascend and descend, almost like a Tortoise song. Perfectly timed bell/clock/chime noises round out the effect, though it uses a far more noise/math rock style scale on the descending turn-arounds.
At least in Halifax, the only other band that's impressed me this much recently with their vocal work is Bike Rodeo. It's nice to see that bands are realizing again that the vocals are a key element and not the place for an after though. The band have mentioned a Beach Boys influence a few times, and it's not hard to compare the close vocals with scrappy rock bands of the 60's and 70's, and even the 80s' – XTC, Echo & The Bunny Men, Wire, etc – and modern bands like Animal Collective and Dan Deacon – maybe we can forget that the 90's ever happened to rock vocals.

Judy Chicago starts off almost like a Rolling Stones riff with a serious swagger – it's nice to hear the band pound on a riff for a good while. The vocals on this song are very mature and I think a step above a lot of typical 'math rock' lyrical content – clearly these guys are coming into their own on every aspect of their music, and it's the little differences like this that move bands from local sensations to national recognition. The band I'm sure will be touring heavily at some point, if their progression in YR is any indication (You can find footage from their Sled Festival set, the culmination of a cross Canada tour, online on YouTube).

This song is maybe the closest on the album to a radio ready rock song, and the reality is that good records do have that feature – it doesn't make less any of the other songs, but it gives people a hook to buy the album.

Tell Me It Isn't Your Blood brings more great vocal work that harks back to Genesis, Queen, the Allman Brothers, and lots of classic vocal harmony styles, rearranged into typical twisted LLL riffs. The guitar work isn't as intense in the second, more vocal half of the song, but the the machine gun drums and thick bass give all the groove and hook needed. The hit hats sound like a machine - clearly years of playing and touring have payed off, and this breakdown makes it amazingly obvious why hiring a studio ready pro drummer is the key to taking your band to the next level.

Track 7 starts off with a bizarre sounding pseudo guitar horn section and suspenseful guitar that recalls vintage King Crimson, including the requisite monster power chord turn around. LLL throw us back and forth between decades and fantastic futurist riffs so often that I actually got a little dizzy listening to this song. I think this song might be one of the best gems of the whole record, it just leaves a person very pleased. The only complaint you could have is that the band throws out amazing riffs and never returns to them – there are probably enough disposed off riffs on this album to make two rock n' roll albums at least!

Money Feel Like Money gives you a second to catch your breath with white noise waves. Fantastic mixing on delayed guitars and lush vocals give this track a sedate, dreamy feel. I still can't believe the variety of vocal styles that they pull off on this record. This song almost sounds like the aforementioned Bike Rodeo – nice vocal harmonies and pentantonic garage rock riffing. More spoken vocals recall both the previous Genesis, Yes style prog vocals, and also the beginning of the album, before we knew what to make of it. A pretty clever move, especially in a album that clocks in at well under half an hour.

By the the time we reach the penultimate It's at Night that you Might, LLL is running out of tricks, but it's not making the songs any less enjoyable. You can lean back and just be relaxed by another semi-sedate sounding track. Now that you know what to expect it still doesn't cease to take you by surprise - the end of the song blows up in epic, Broken Social Scene carnival style riffing that grabs you and doesn't let go for a minute. Again, the only complaint that you can make is that the songs are so short that they're almost over before you begin to really appreciate them.

The final track is a nice cool down, with more outstanding vocals; a mid tempo rocker with beautiful guitar tone, glassy and crisp. Just before the half way point, something that sounds suspiciously like a banjo joins in , then another, then percussion.... then a building high piano note then suddenly, Beefheart! Where did this come from? Will the riff return? (Does it ever?) This is classic freakout prog ala Can, Zappa, then whew – riffs and vocals like it never happened. At this point you are pleading for the album not be over, even though you can see the end coming. Still there are enough riffs packed into the closing to make it feel like you've heard another whole half of an album. It's a lot to handle but you're very thankful for it.

Overall this album is highly recommended. It was almost impossible to find any faults: some of the songs run together, since they're sometimes just a collection of riffs back to back. Sometimes the bass was a little muddy or too low in the mix, but 90% of the time everything worked. Someone (not me) pointed this out as a guitar and vocal based album; but to me it once again proves that without the bass and drums, even the best guitar hook laden songs wouldn't work.

The razor sharp drumming, the freshest riffs since the Beatles (interestingly, the Wikipedia page for the eponymous Harrison song describes it as “an off-beat mixture of styles,” which surely describes this band just as well) truly dedicated vocal work, and fresh ideas make this album a huge hit. Make no mistake, this is probably the best new Canadian indie record I've heard this year. It carries the same vibe that worked for Women, and I can't see this record not shooting to the tops of the Radio 3 and campus charts with the right promotion. I'm looking forward to seeing this iteration of the band live as soon as possible, and I have no doubt they'll be coming to a town near you soon.



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