Fembots

Small Town Murder Scene

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    7
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Combining retro-sounding, analog instruments and film noir atmospherics with traditional, roots-based song structures, Toronto's Fembots make alt-country that's infused with an eerie, video-8 graininess. Beginning in a haze of percussion and looped, blood-curdling squeals, the duo's second full-length Small Town Murder Scene strikes a disquieting, panicky tone right from the start. The effect is such that when the clamor gives way to a quiet chord progression, as it does with the skeletal guitar strum of "Broken and Blue," you know that something ominous is probably lurking just around the corner. That's not to say there aren't some pretty pop moments on Small Town Murder Scene -- with its glistening bell tones and swirling organs, "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist" sounds like Mark Linkous on a good day -- but as a rule, it's a swampy, disembodied record that privileges discord and ragged disorder. As a result, otherwise traditional stomps such as "Tombstone Blues" and the piano-led title track end up taking on slightly sinister qualities, like back porch music performed at night with the candles extinguished.

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