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Kowloon Walled City: Container Ships

San Francisco's Kaloown Walled City are getting lots of well-deserved attention these days. One of the songs off of their new album, "Cornerstone," premiered on National Public Radio recently, a sign that their following is growing, not only with listeners, but with critics alike. I am occasionally skeptical of bands that generate tons of early media buzz, often because by the time I catch up to them the praise seems to eclipse the actual listening experience. Instead of focusing on the music, in other words, I find myself thinking about the critical comments, hoping that my experience somehow matches theirs. The result is often disappointing. This album avoids that problem for two main reasons: first, Container Ships does make for an enjoyable listen, mostly because the instrumentation is thick and interesting enough that it doesn't lend itself to easy impressions; second, this kind of music is probably never going to wear out its welcome as does the latest Youtube clip or Itunes top seller. This is an album music fans can enjoy. I know I was impressed.

The album, containing 7 tracks that last for a total of 35 minutes, makes for engaging listening. IThe style is mostly a strong combination of post-rock and sludge. I'm still learning how to listen to post-rock, but I tend to focus on what the guitars are doing, how they create melodies, harmonies, and musical moods. On this album, the guitars take listeners in new and interesting directions by exploring the edges of musical key. I loved the way the music seemed to stray from a core center. The vocals, often screamed, are somewhat muted, giving listeners a chance to enjoy what the rest of the band is doing without being overwhelmed by one man's charisma (or lack thereof). I've listened to this album several times over the last few days and find that it gets better and better with each spin. I especially recommend the last track "You Don't Have Cancer," a tune that captures the sense of worry, anxiety, and hope that combine against people thinking they may have the dreaded disease. For all I know, the song may be about something else entirely, but the title and the lyrics sent me in a fairly specific direction. Other highlights include the aforementioned "Cornerstone" and "50s Dad." For those who want to hear it first, Container Ships streams on the band's website; it is also available for download on Bandcamp on a pay what you will basis.

Track Listing:
1. The Pressure Keeps Me Alive
2. 50s Dad
3. Beef Cattle
4. Container Ships
5. Cornerstone
6. Wrong Side of History
7. You Don't Have Cancer

Added: December 8th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1687
Language: english

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