Chariots Congratulations

[Troubleman Unlimited; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: Screamo, post-punk, art-core
Others: Hot Snakes/Drive Like Jehu, Free Republic (of Soul)

DO YOU COMPUTE? DO YOU COMPUTE? DO YOU OR DON'T YOU? I THINK YOU DO. Listening to Rick Froberg scream his lungs out on Drive Like Jehu's classic 1994 LP Yank Crime, the sound is still so raw, so fuckin' immediate that two questions quickly spring to mind: Why doesn't every rock fan own this, and why haven't any young, angry bands done anything to improve upon it? The second question applies to Chariots, who make music "fueled by anger" and owe a thing or two to Froberg and John Reis, currently paired in Hot Snakes. This is not to say that the band's passion is in question -- singer Travis Bos, late of hardcore outfits Song of Zarathustra and Book of Dead Names, does his damndest to make himself heard over the menacing walls of guitars and huge drums. The album's title track gives him some room in the bridge, in a fashion pretty darn close to the Jehu track quoted above.

So what's the matter? Nothing, really. Congratulations starts well, and "Grpstx" and "Number One with a Bullet" are both appropriately ferocious, as are the album's last two cuts "Twister Party Fails to Get Dirty" and "The Laundry Room in this Building is Equipped with a Burglar Alarm." Bos plays keyboard, which when audible adds a nice layer. So, forgiving a certain sense of monotony that sets in around half-way in and doesn't evaporate until things start really churning again towards the end, what's the deal? I really like this sort of thing, though it's so dense that I sometimes struggle to find the situation for it. Reis and Froberg have opted to streamline their approach with Hot Snakes, while Chariots have taken the Jehu sound and made it even messier. It's a legitimate move, and the band certainly can't be faulted on their influences. Eleven years after the release of Yank Crime, Jehu is still the New Cool Rock, and it's starting to seem a little unfortunate for dudes like Chariots that the big boys kicked so much ass. But if you've taken the time you should with SoCal's finest, this bunch of Minnesotans more than deserves your ears.

1. Bored Housewife Syndrome
2. Hips Unite
3. Silver Tongue
4. Grpstx
5. Number One with a Bullet
6. Congratulations
7. Nouveau Riche
8. Two Points Up, One Point Down
9. Twister Party Fails to Get Dirty
10. The Laundry Room in this Building is Equipped with a Burglar Alarm