Playing on Prefix is a feature on KCRW’s Music Blog where writers from the eclectic music site Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers this week.
(Editor’s Note: We recently featured today’s artist as a Local Band We Love. Jason Bentley is crazy about their new album!)
In 2004, LA trio Autolux put out an album called “Future Perfect.” The album contained 11 tracks of expertly crafted indie rock that nodded toward early-‘90s shoegaze sounds and Sonic Youth’s less abrasive material. It sounded like it had been recorded in some abandoned factory with amazing gear; the drums felt like crates of bricks being dropped from balconies, and reverb floated around everything, adding more to the dingy ambience.
The band, which consists of bassist/vocalist Eugene Goreshter, Greg Edwards (formerly of ‘90s space-grungers Failure) and drummer/vocalist Carla Azar, found itself touring with acts as big as Nine Inch Nails, Beck, and the White Stripes. Then, with the exception of a couple tracks here and there and an appearance on UNKLE’s 2007 album War Stories, Autolux basically disappeared.
This year, after numerous delays, Autolux returned with “Transit Transit,” a record that reigns in some of the noisiness of Future Perfect and makes diversions into quieter, more experimental territory, all while adding additional fangs to the songs that recall their earlier material. This is no more apparent than on first single “Supertoys,” which pops up about halfway through the album.
It’s the band’s ability to ratchet up tension and volume without exploding into overly noisy territory that make this a standout track. In the verses, Goreshter’s higher-pitched vocals follow Edward’s guitar lines pretty closely, culminating in a simple part from Edwards that seems like someone slowly turning up a volume knob. Then the chorus hits. Edwards’s spiky guitar reaches its peak, and Azar turns in one of her most assured vocal performances to date, lacing the track with a sinister air. Sure, the song structure immediately repeats itself before ending on a louder note, but there is power in Autolux’s simplicity here.
“Supertoys” is almost a bone thrown to longtime fans who aren’t expecting the different directions Autolux takes on “Transit Transit.” But more important, it’s a perfect entry point for people just hearing the band’s music for the first time.
-Erik Ziedses des Plantes