The Escalators

Moving Staircases

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While the Escalators were formed by two former members of U.K. psychobilly act the Meteors, their first and only album, Moving Staircases, shows they were capable of a lot more than the tacky horror show play-acting that was their former band's trademark. While there's a faint hint of rockabilly visible around the edges of the Escalators' music, for the most part Moving Staircases leans heavily towards garage punk, with a gloomy yet curiously inviting aural cloud hanging over the music. Bassist Nigel Lewis and drummer Mark Robertson give the music a firm and steady pulse, but they also let it fade back just enough to give these tunes the determined plod of the walking dead, while Bart Coles' guitar work blends twang with a dash of fuzz, and the finished product manages to sound ominous without turning into a cartoon. The lyrics also lean towards real-life horrors rather than monster movie shtick on songs like "Flanders Field" and "The Day the Sun Burned Down," while the excesses of mid-'80s British consumer culture are raked over the coals in "Sloane Rangers" and "Video Club." And though vocalist Woodie doesn't have a wealth of range, he certainly makes himself understood, and there's a direct, unpretentious tone to his work that gets the job done with no fuss and significant impact. The Escalators lasted less than a year, and judging from this album, that's a shame -- they rocked with genuine nocturnal force, and they avoided the sillier excesses of their peers to make an album that rocked with heart, soul and intelligence. Certainly worth a listen.

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