FRESH WAX: Turf War, Kolossi

Turf War - Years of Living Dangerously

Turf War
Years of Living Dangerously
[Old Flame Records, 2011]


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Here’s the long and short of it: If you’ve been desperately searching for a record that will re envision Atlanta local music and challenge the status quo, Years of Living Dangerously will likely only induce you to fits. However, if you’re an established fan of stripped-down Southern garage full of reverb-soaked guitars and booming choruses, Turf War will (occasionally) give you the sloppy, unhinged raucousness you need.

First single “Cheers to the Years” proved that the five-piece could string together a rousing sing-along, but the real revelation was the Titus Andronicus-like desperation that kept leaking from the seams. Quite frankly, Turf War would do well to harness more of that ragged intensity as they spend too much of Years relying on catchy hooks and shambling rhythms rather than allowing themselves to fly off the rails. Considering their reputation for rowdy live shows, you’d think Turf War’s debut effort (especially one produced by Black Lips guitarist, Ian St. Pé) would aim to be raw, not reserved.

Still, tracks like the swaggering “Where I Belong” and the growly “Bones” are messy-by-design rockers that plays to the band’s gritty strengths, and there is enough vintage pop lurking in the corners of “For the Last Time” to indicate that the group is no mere one-trick garage punk pony. They’re not there yet, but Years of Living Dangerously shows they’ve got a lot to work with.

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Kolossi - The Chase
The Chase
[Double Phantom Digital, 2011]


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Formed by three members of the now defunct Roman Photos, Kolossi totes the line between pulsing electronic dance grooves and introspective mood music. There is a stark, austere beauty about their dreamy compositions; even at their most energetic, their songs seem to conjure a sort of wintertime barrenness that is mesmerizing. While most similarly-minded groups choose to layer their soundscapes with a dense array of percussive beats, clicks, beeps, field recordings and who knows what else in an attempt to generate a semblance of atmosphere, Kolossi opts for a more subtle and nuanced approach, taking care to make each artfully placed note count. They still use their fair share of billowing synths, programmed beats and washed-out vocals to construct their songs, but rather than piling these sounds on top of one another, the group stretches each element out individually and lets them breathe, achieving a sort of drone effect in the process. It’s a simple aesthetic — or better put, a thoughtful one — because, above all, The Chase is an exercise in minimalist restraint. And yet, there is an invigorating bigness about “Removables” and “Shell,” the two tracks that bookend the five-song EP, that proves that Kolossi are capable of delivering all the sonic heft they need. As debuts go it’s an exceptional effort, one that establishes Kolossi’s unique musical voice while still offering them plenty of room to grow.

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