30 June 2009

The Answering Machine: "Another City, Another Sorry"

Out of Manchester, the band formed in 2005 with Martin Colclough (vocals, guitars) and Pat Fogarty (guitar, backing vocals) started writing music together while attending the University of Manchester. Within a few months, Gemma Evans (bass, backing vocals) would join the band, and with the aid of a drum machine they would start playing their first live shows. Well into 2007, Ben Perry (drums, glockenspiel) would join the three, rounding out the line-up that would release “Another City, Another Sorry” (15 June 2009 in the UK, available as import or download in the USA). And of course the feeling is another indie band out of the UK? Another Stokes? Another Scouting for Girls? The answers: yes, no, no – take a listen, scratch the surface, and you are going to be surprised.

I am a fan of the Stokes, but I think the comparison is disingenuous. Party made because of some of the guitar playing, but, regardless if they are fans of the Stokes and/or share common influences, they are not a copy of the Stokes in any way. Moreover, there is more energy in the Answering Machine – they are not aiming at the same final effect with their music. As for Scouting for Girls (yes, I like them too, does that ruin my credibility?), the Answering Machine is nothing like them either. Though I think that some of the tracks on “Another City, Another Sorry” have it in them to garnish radio play, I do not think that was their intention. I don’t think that the Answering Machine cares much about top 20 successes, perhaps I am wrong, but if they did, they would have sought a different production style to their album.

This album is a perfect blend between vocal harmonies, in your face guitar playing, smashing percussion, and driving bass lines that propel each song. You cannot imagine any of these songs without the full ensemble working together; there is a perfect interplay between the members of the band. “Oh, Christina” is the perfect example of this. This is a perfect song with the “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” in the background, the playful interplay between the bass and rhythm guitar, the steady beat, and lyrics with a real narrative quality: “Oh Christina, you know I don’t really want to leave you, acting out scenes on the bedroom floor, you never use to act this way before. Oh Christina, I only came round so I could see you, you can’t take back what you said before, it’s not that simple… it’s not simple at all.” The latest single, “Obviously Cold,” has that same kind of narrative quality, and though musically the same interplay between the members exists, there seems to be more of an early 90s quality to it with how the band moves from one musical texture to another.

What is amazing about the album is that it is not predictable. From the inclusion of “It’s Over! It’s Over! It’s Over!” to the post-punkish close, “You Should Have Called,” this album will keep you on the edge of your seat as you’re listening. Right from the opening, the titular track, “Another City, Another Sorry,” you are not drowned by raucous or cacophony, instead you are smacked with urgency and relevance, a feel of narrative sincerity and careful, deliberate craftsmanship. Even in the slower paced “The Information” (“Sometimes it feels like these buildings are asleep, and you’re so smart and I’m so bored…”) and the mid-tempo “Emergency” (ironic, really, as the title would suggest anything other than sedate music), that sense of urgency, the need to communicate narrative and reach out is there.

Ultimately, I fear the Answering Machine are being compared with too many bands out there or being lumped into that non-descript, nebulous indie/festival circuit. It will only steal away from the fact they are urgent and relevant of this is a must have summer album.

Track Listing:
1. Another City, Another Story
2. Obviously Cold
3. Oh, Christina
4. Tomorrow
5. Cliffer
6. Emergency
7. Oklahoma
8. Lightbulbs
9. It's Over! It's Over! It's Over
10. The Information
11. Your Should Have Called

Keep up with The Answering Machine at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Cliffer” from their YouTube Channel: AnsweringMachineBand.

1 comment:

  1. I love answering machine. Is there a music video for "Another City, another story"...Even though I'm not a huge fan of rock... I have to admit, the video was awesome. Thanks for putting up the blog