Check Engine's self-titled release has its fine points, but it doesn't strike this writer as that thought-out. It just seems like they kind of got in the studio and went for it. There are times when this raw aesthetic conveys a sense of urgency or immediacy, like in the music of Sonic Youth, Fugazi, or even Iggy & the Stooges, going way back. There are other times when the rawness just comes off sounding amateurish, like a lack of proper planning. Check Engine's release, in places, has a combination of the two. The music is interesting, yet so indicative -- sonically and otherwise -- of what's happening in American indie music. The contrapuntal ideas between saxophone and electric guitar are neat and even original, but the vocals sound like every other indie guy, screaming in his best emo voice over whatever's going on. It's this that really cheapens the music. The music alone is quite good, but when the vocals come in it just sounds like another middle-American white guy screaming about the woes of this or that, and it doesn't fit with the music; in fact, it makes the music kind of pathetic in a longing-for-sonic-freedom kind of way. Fans of any of the groups listed above will enjoy this recording, as well as any fan of American indie music, as it's certainly par for the course and maintains the musical status quo nicely.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Borghi