The Spinners

Brutal (Clear Tigers, 2007)

In Indie American, Indie Rock, Rex Baylon on January 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

Brooklyn-based indie rock band, Clear Tigers, consists of just one man: Nathan Akin. Moving to New York from Arkansas to study with the composer La Monte Young, Akin eventually formed Clear Tigers in 2006. Within a year he had enough material for his first album, Brutal, which was released in October 2007. Now if that doesn’t sound so impressive after giving the album a listen then maybe it hasn’t sunk into you yet that every instrument and every vocal you hear in the album belongs to Akin himself, which he recorded in his Brooklyn apartment.

Clear Tigers could give most upstart bands a run for their money. Akin fills up each track with rumbling acoustic guitar riffs, clanging piano notes, and idiosyncratic vocal cues which give the impression that you are not merely listening to one man but an entire orchestra. He plays with several different musical genres; sampling from folk, pop, rock, grunge, folktronica and several other different styles. And if there is any flaw in the album it’s that Brutal is reminiscent of other really good albums. Tracks like “Vacation”, “Summer School”, and “Hotel” evoke the spirit of pop-punk bands like the Von Bondies. And after giving songs like “Boredom,” “Kids”, “Summertime”, and “Come Around” a listen you might mistake them for tracks looping in an Elliott Smith playlist. Not to mention that popular pieces like “Spookhouse” and “Igloo” could also be categorized as Animal Collective-lite.

Yet this is a minor blemish in an otherwise wonderful album—after all, musicians aren’t required to reinvent the wheel especially on their first try—and Brutal is indeed an enjoyable debut and a wonderful introduction to a new artist.

– Rex Baylon

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