4. The Narrator — All That To The Wall
We're inching closer and closer to #1. Can this 'Vine stand the build-up, or will it tear under the unbearable tension? Hold on tight with both hands — my #4 album of 2007 is below, and below my entry are the words of fellow 'ListenIn-er' Eric Atienza in , who has a different idea about who deserves the coveted #4 nod. I think his pick is, umm, 'Weakerthan' mine, but I digress...
Coming in at #4 is one of the most criminally overlooked albums of 2007, The Narrator's dazzling sophomore effort, All That To The Wall. A few parts early Pavement, a few parts early Modest Mouse and reminiscent at times of other 90's punk powerhouses like Braid and Hot Water Music, The Narrator have crafted an album chockful of anthemic lo-fi indie punk. Opener "Son of the Son of the Kiss of Death" sees The Narrator bending notes alongside a thick and fuzzy bass line, as co-lead singer Jesse Woghin artfully considers his Long Island heritage in relation to the city that runs adjacent to it. "I miss the caves that kept us in/All this land is wasted sitting east of Manhattan."
Though the production quality on All That To The Wall is low, there's no doubt that songs like "SurfJew" and "Breaking the Turtle" are pure pop-punk gold. On "SurfJew," Woghin screams the album's most memorable chorus "I know! I know! I know! That we are waiting to pop!" which sounds simple and sophomoric extracted from the song but makes perfect sense in context. On "Breaking the Turtle," Woghin starts the song by stating "This is the song for all the NASCAR generation: the more they sit there, the more they are gaining momentum," which seems to warn of a future America, armed, drunk and outfitted in Stars and Bars.
The band's other lead singer, Sam Axelrod, has written that the album is about "weather, geography, religion, sex, nostalgia, hanging out, waiting, aging, quitting and leaving," all concepts that are addressed in the lyrics of the album. One of Axelrod's most poetic observations comes on the tense, penultimate "A Decade in Kentucky," where he sings "I've got faith that there is no god and every rebel is dead and buried, and this world is going to shit," a nihilistic platitude that helps create a bridge to album closer "Chocolate Windchimes, where Woghin runs with a similar theme: "I hope Mr. Gore isn't right/I'm looking forward to the big freeze/cuz when they thaw me out/the confusion that amounts will be worth a few million years of ice."
All said, All That To The Wall firmly establishes The Narrator as a band to look out for in the coming years. They're an intriguing act lyrically (though virtually no lyrics are available online) and they are exceptionally gifted at songcraft. Watch out for 'em.
© ScooterDMan 2007 for LISTEN IN. Some rights reserved.