Although I have been a fan of the Crystal Stilts (http://www.crystalstilts.com/ ) for a while now, ever since their first album “Alight Of Night” on the amazing Slumberland Records in 2008, nothing could have prepared me for their second album “In Love With Oblivion” (Slumberland) and their most recent EP “Radiant Door” (Sacred Bones), which just gave me the inspiration to say a few words, as something must be said about this band as they are easily one of the finest bands around these days as they continue to assimilate the past (choosing only the finest ingredients), perfect their sound (oh and what a sound) and create their own masterpieces (which are both gritty and majestic).
First, I’ll mention a few things about the album as I had scribbled down a few words back in the summer, hoping to put up a post then, but as things go, it never materialized so I’ll try to remember what I was thinking. If you can imagine blending the energy of one of the finer 60’s garage psych bands (imagine Blue Cheer joining the Electric Prunes) and filter it through some well produced dreamy shoegaze sounds, add some chiming guitars and organs (in the style of The Blue Orchids and Galaxie 500), and you just start to get a sense of this beautiful sound they’re creating.
As I love to link things and sounds to what I already know and own, here is what I was thinking or possibly what I heard traces of: The Fall (circa Fiery Jack) as performed by The Electric Prunes on “Sycamore Tree”; A happy Joy Division jamming with the Stones on “Through The Floor” accompanied by the finest of the girl group harmonies paying homage to the 60’s as funneled through The Golden Horde; chiming paisley pop of “Silver Sun” recalling The Rain Parade, Love Tractor and The loft / Weather Prophets with hints of The Blue Orchids (one of my favourites which continues in more of the songs); Traces of another of my favourites, One Thousand Violins on “Flying Into The Sun” and “Invisible City” as well as some Television Personalities (these guys would do a great cover for our tribute series – in case the band is reading this); More wonderful jangle on “Shake The Shackles”, maybe a more upbeat Blue Orchids with traces of The June Brides and The Close Lobsters; “Precarious Stair” not quite sure what to say but just a great tune (and also released on 7″ on Little Teddy Records); and by the time I got to the last few songs the influences were coming from all angles and were getting me all confused as I was hearing so many great bands that I no longer could figure it out – they accomplished what only the best bands can to keep your interest and excitement through the whole album. Very well done!
Now you would think that it would be hard to top the album, but the EP “Radiant Door” easily takes things up a notch, and I’m not sure if it is the amazing production and sound (no doubt assisted by the amazing talents of Gary Olson from The Ladybug Transistor – who also released an amazing album this year) that seems to envelope you right from the start of “Dark Eyes”, giving you the feeling that a warm ocean wave has just landed on you and lifted you and carried you away to a better place; maybe it is the intro to “Radiant Door” which reminds me of the Television Personalities first album and that style of production which I so enjoy (hearing this song and “Frost Inside The Asylum” makes me want to hear these guys do a version of “Magnificent Dreams” or “Three Wishes” or “Say You Won’t Cry”); or is it the band stretching out to create a variety of moods like the dark country a la Wall Of Voodoo of “Still As The Night” or maybe it’s their inclusion of the cover of the Blue Orchids song “Low Profile” which holds so much sentimental appeal (having first heard the original on the NME C81 cassette so many years ago and never tiring of it – and you can never go wrong with a Blue Orchids cover – why are there not more bands doing them). Add in some Galaxie 500 (especially on “Frost Inside The Asylum” which ends this EP perfectly), The Velvet Underground, The Pastels more hints of Creation bands like Swervedriver and Ride and mix some twang and garage of The Cramps and Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and a touch of James King and The Lone Wolves and you have an essential EP, that you should search out and fall in love with!