By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
It might be first instinct to say that Denton's Record Hop made a deal with the devil, or with God, or with another spirit entirely to produce its eponymous second full-length release.
Alas, it was none of the above. Rather, the deal was struck with unassuming Shellac frontman and Chicago-based underground music icon Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana).
Albini's recording techniques and the group's natural—if not stupefying—maturation (both in performance and songwriting) found each other like friends-with-benefits after a night at a balls-out rock show. Tracks such as "Rest Stop Murders" and "End of Line" are portraits of balance, showcasing the quartet's ability to tame noise and metal with intelligent melody and vocals both beseeching and ass-kicking. Ashley Cromeens' ability to scream as well as actually sing recalls the know-how of Kim Gordon and the seduction of Polly Jean Harvey—just take in "Slugworth" or "Skirtchaser" for proof. Meanwhile, guitarist Scott Porter has taken to slaying his parts with an amazing grace and passion developed since the group's debut disc, Pareidolia. Cory Ward also offers a fine selection of bass lines to the mix, showing a musical knowledge that clearly expands well beyond rock 'n' roll, and Tony Wann's newish percussive presence isn't lost either—his work is precise and muscular, but never overwhelming, standing out on the songs "Maths" and "Clique."
Record Hop is a flat-out success. With it, Record Hop has taken indie rock through a gauntlet of metal, hair and primal urge—and then left it to vent its anger and lust in your CD player.