Despite convenient comparisons to guiding lights, the Cocteau Twins, Los Angeles combo, The Autumns, increase abrasive fervor and decrease lissome ethereality for ‘08s transcending Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys (World’s Fair). Though their first three mesmerizing releases, spread across eleven years, profusely borrowed and resourcefully adapted their Scottish mentors’ glossy meditations, the West Coast quintet now churn out more confidently inventive material. Wondrously majestic singer, Matthew Kelly, one of three interdependent guitarists, flexes his expressive pipes, dousing elliptical imagery over texturally elegant terrain.
Growing up in suburban Santa Clarita, a mundane town nearing Magic Mountain Amusement Park twenty minutes north of the City of Angels, Kelly befriended fellow founding member, Frankie Koroshec in his late teens. Sharing similar artistic influences, the two began rehearsing in Koroshec’s Newhall-based residence and soon after played local gigs at Southern California clubs.
“Early on, I got into wide ranging artists like Dokken, George Michael, and the Smiths, a weirdly odd hodgepodge handed down from my older sister. By high school, I had a staunch evangelical conversion listening to Christian rock and tossing out my devilish music by Metallica,” he suspiciously laughs. “But at age 17, the Manchester scene – Trashcan Sinatras, Stone Roses, and the Smiths – became bedrocks. I moved from trying to write Johnny Marr-type pop songs, which was impossible, to going to college and getting into the shoegaze scene – My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Later on, I discovered Fugazi. Eventually, these influences became legion until you can’t tell what’s doing what.” Gray skies clear up a bit for 2000’s In the Russet Gold of This Vain Hour, a well received, but oft-times sketchy, set improving upon the passionately whimpered sentiments of yore. Ceremoniously, London-born Cocteau Twins bassist, Simon Raymonde, handled production chores. Elkins, an extremely creative percussionist, is currently working on a document focusing on avant-garde musicians such as Fred Frith and Nels Cline.
Understandably, Kelly was knocked out getting to meet one of his longtime gurus, but the resultant output suffered due to inconclusively circumstantial whims.
“The Cocteaus were a deity to us. We jumped at the opportunity to work with Simon, a brilliant musician and part of a great band. Simon found out about us though Angel Pool, which we’d toured a lot for. Also, Andy Metcalfe, Robyn Hitchcock’s versatile bassist, had made us some demos.” However, he infers, “While the experience was great, the timing was wrong. I don’t think Simon truly captured our sound at that time. It wasn’t his fault. The songs were good but we didn’t get them to jell as well as they could have. Still, hanging out making music with him was its own reward.”
Unexpectedly, the Autumns small label, Risk Records, suddenly folded, leaving them to gradually contemplate their next move. Fortunately, a self-titled ’04 project restored their conviction as the ameliorated group then broadened the extravagant august mood that had embellished both initial endeavors.
“That album was slower moving, almost ambient, and it rolled with the flow,” Kelly insists. “Subsequently, we knew we wanted to change things up a little.”
More active, agitated, and complex than previous fare, ‘08s Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys defies simple expectations, refining intricately woven guitar lattice and doubling dynamic rhythmic fierceness. Though conflicted about the albums’ flowingly rhyming title, Kelly divulges it may have something to do with “plastic, abstract noise coming from an amplifier.” But one would argue its overall sound seems closer to substantive, bright reflections emanating outside prevailing fringes.
A semi-thematic detour away from bleakly disoriented narcosis, the ensemble’s extensive assuredness enlivens the variegated multicolored sequences while a newfangled proggish angularity secures any remaining Epicurean dystopia. Lucent bassist Dustin Morgan and bang-up drummer Steve Elkins furnish adhesive beats, strengthening the sturdy backbone for frontline axe-handling rejuvenators Kelly, Koroshec, and relative newcomer (circa 2000?), Ken Tighe.
“We have the third guitar to fully capture our thoughts and enlarge arpeggio stuff,” confirms Kelly. “For our arrangements, someone usually comes up with a basic idea we then work off of.”
Fake Noise appears to be emboldened by stronger songwriting, richer adaptations, and the fact that it’s hardly beholden to any imperious references. A few steps removed from yest