Astor Place Riot
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Astor Place Riot

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky, United States

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky, United States
Alternative Indie

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"Album Reviews, "Without Wax EP" and "Fine White Line LP""

The band's first effort, 'Without Wax' (2009 EP), is anchored around the song "In My Hold", a tune for the dangerous and those who lust for groove. The song's echoing background lyric, "you've got your situation", clues in on numerous transparent memos that Josh intersperses throughout the other four songs on the album (they recently revamped "In My Hold" with a funky viola and it makes you feel really grimy). "Hurts Me to My Soul" is a luscious daydream turned apprehensive in protest of an unknown bigot, while "Ballroom" dances with paranoia before breaking from the song's marching elegy to a poppy rebuttal as Josh mocks what could have been, saying "it's pleasing to me, to see you all wrapped up this way." Keeping up the eerie, "Locked In (For a Chit-Chat)" rushes the waltz down the ego's rabbit-hole as Susan's reverberant viola provides the only soothing touch to the strange odyssey Josh is forced to confront in the last fleeting moments of his character's pending end. The last song "Right Back to You" resolves the album's dramatic atmosphere with a stubby, blues tune, fit for jukebox rotation in a whiskey roadhouse. 'Without Wax' leaves you feeling like you danced your way out of the fun-house on a pair of stilts, and perhaps that is because APR practiced in a large warehouse with a side-show haunted house around the time this album was written. The album does leave more for wanting as Josh admits it was restricted in sound to present the band as they would sound in their live performances, this was the inspiration for the title 'Without Wax'.
The follow-up to 'Without Wax' the full-length 'Fine White Line' (2012 LP) addressed that restriction by including as many tracks as possible. 2012's 'Fine White Line' hinges around the single "Complete Waste". This is their iconic rock song with tinges of a brewing freak-out ready to happen at any moment, until they take you to church in the middle of the song. The only miss was not including a choir of glorious gospel-belters. "Lower the Rope" is a bittersweet, catchy song that is both pop-rock yet still retains its own kind of opaque tension. "Time to Breathe" is naughty and moves like there's no tomorrow. It's got that b-b-b-e-a-t beat, and will definitely leave you panting. The title track "Fine White Line" is a super-melty cavernous introspection that turns into a wicked jam at the end. Josh elaborates that this song is a reference to positing yourself in relation to a particular high-water mark of values, where as he ultimately decides to "just let the cards fall where they may." The phosphorous "Open Window" is guitar and sample driven, and "Pass Us By" is rooted with delays, glitches, and dubbed guitars, over top of a smooth rhythm section. The last song on the album, "Last Chorus", is a fitting end as footsteps lead into Josh's temporal landscape, crisp in confrontation over the brevity of life. Susan's viola is a silky bullet, piercing beautifully into the soundscape, as all the band joins in at the end. Ideally, 'Fine White Line' is a dip album, meaning you might get the best out of it by driving around in your car. Josh will croon your uncertainties by unveiling his own, and his lyrics in 'Fine White Line' address the effects of the unknown and time on human emotion. It is this manner of delivery that is unique to APR, as you might unknowingly find yourself happily humming, or find your mind moving about the brilliant corners of his melodies. - John Gooden


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

With Crossing Lines, Astor Place Riot’s 2012 EP release, the band is continuing their tradition of aggressive indie/alt rock displaying a diverse range of influences. Plenty of Astor Place Riot trademarks: intricate vocal arrangements, earworm melodies, layered instrumental soundscapes, detailed lyrical storytelling and minor key tension juxtaposed with thumping rhythms. But Crossing Lines is packaged a bit differently than the Lexington, KY band’s previous releases.

While 2011’s full-length Fine White Line relied more on big, soaring choruses, Crossing Lines is more concerned with thoughtful timing. That’s not to say that front man Josh Fletcher and lead guitarist Clay Gibson hold back from delivering hair-raising and anthemic melodies, but a more refined focus to where these moments occur. This record is marked by a noticeable maturity in sound and multi-dimensional development in their song structure.

Each song on Crossing Lines is very different, but of a distinguishable Astor Place Riot DNA. The lead single, “Backhand” is driven by Fletcher’s robust vocal delivery and piano arrangement along with Tim Condo’s snare drag-heavy, “less is more” approach to the drums. The typically-driving bass lines provided by Jason Majewski take a back seat to focus on more mid-register melody and moves towards low-end body as the song builds, playing “tag” with Susan Janis’ own violin melodies.

“In Too Close” is an ode to the haunting nature of the nighttime when facing hard times, highlighted by eerie guitar work by Gibson with a buildup to a massive finale. “Prevail” is probably the most accessible and pop-friendly song, driven by keys and a delay-heavy guitar theme. “2against3” finds the band at its loudest, marked by powerful guitars and driving rhythms that might remind some of APR’s alt-rock contemporaries, Queens of the Stone Age or Muse. “All In” is a fitting closer for Crossing Lines, incorporating elements of each of the previous songs.