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Cover Art

Kitchens & Bathrooms ( )

Utter A Sound
Sonic Unyon ( http://www.sonicunyon.com/ @SonicUnyon )
1993: Pittsburgh instro-thunderers Don Caballero release their debut album, For Respect. Indie rockers worldwide rip holes in the knees of their jeans for the trio's vocal-less, time/tempo-shifting crunch. With guitarwork that alternated between tinkling and roaring, a rhythm section as heavy as springtime mud, and obligatory arbitrary song titles ("Bears See Things Pretty Much The Way They Are," "Chief Sitting Duck"), the Cabs set a pattern for retro-shirted twentysomethings eager to combine their (honest) love for Sabbath and Jesus Lizard with their (looks good on paper) espousal of the artistic merits of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. 2002: Hamilton (Pittsburgh north of the 49th) rockers Kitchens & Bathrooms issue their first full-length, Utter A Sound. While it would be patently unfair to accuse K&B of ripping off their Pennsylvanian predecessors, their influences are readily apparent, and a clear line can be traced through those intervening nine years, albeit with a dull screwdriver. Utter A Sound showcases three musicians nudging against the ceiling of their abilities on their instruments. They've already progressed beyond and are bored with the basics of three chords and four beats, and now they're exploring the mystical, magical world of alternate tunings, time changes, and the ubiquitous "building-building-building-LOUD-quiet-LOUD" formula of songwriting. And they love the random song titles, too ("Museum of Steam and Technology," "Twenty-Eight Minutes 'Til Alaska"). What keeps this debut from really taking off can be traced to a number of factors. First is the seeming inability for the trio to effectively build a song from start to finish. K&B know how to bring a song to a comfortable plateau, but have difficulty with the denoument. The remainder of the problems stem from the recording process. While producer Daniel Burton (Ativin guitarist and engineer for much of the Secretly Canadian roster) has his fair share of technical kudos, much of Utter A Sound sounds inadvertently murky. Part of this can be traced to the hoarsely shouted vocals being miked from twenty-odd feet away, while the remainder seems attributable to a clothes dryer filled with pebbles shaking away against the back wall of the studio. In a live setting, K&B can shake the plaster off the walls with ease, something their first album fails to capture. Utter A Sound remains an interesting disc in spots, but groans under the weight of poor production and thematic underdevelopment.

By Russell Gragg
Oct 15, 2002

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