The Narrator

All That to the Wall

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As refreshing and raw as All That to the Wall is, unfortunately it will likely be overlooked by most listeners who are in search of other warmer and more heavily produced releases, which is a shame because this album ultimately feels as real and intimate as a classic Hüsker Dü or Pavement disc, with a timelessness that makes it very accessible; it just might take a little investment. The Narrator could easily squeeze into the '80s/early-'90s genre of indie rock/alternative bands, and like those groups, they make songs that are raw and ultimately rewarding -- like a loyal old friend with a gruff demeanor. The album succeeds most because it manages to straddle the line between neat and sloppy, making for an unpretentious lackadaisical honesty only found in truly great rock bands. The Replacements, Pixies, Meat Puppets, Sloan, and Sunny Day Real Estate may come to mind, as well as many other bands with a straightforward formula of guitar, bass, and drums, but there are also some more direct influences from their hometown of Chicago that shine through, like ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Cap'n Jazz. These math-rocky updates on a former alternative style, plus a remake of the Bob Dylan song "All the Tired Horses," with a slow indie rock building-block accumulation of sounds over a repeated chorus, plant this record firmly in modern times. The vocals aren't stunning, the record is certainly not tight, and the production is reverby and cold, but it has an undeniable noisy charm and striking hooks that make it an intimate, lasting experience. And while it isn't an album that will necessarily grab your attention on first spin, after repeated listens it certainly can.

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