Brooklyn indie-pop trio, Control Group, have authored quite an album with their EP Hot Swap, which recalls the early ‘90s when the term indie rock actually meant more than just a clustering of “chic looking” bands that all sound exactly the same as it seems to imply these days. Rather here Hot Swap brings back memories of bands such as Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk and Archers of Loaf, who never had much if any mainstream success though they had a huge impact and influence on their indie successors.
Though all comparisons aside, Control Group also brings their own spin on the indie genre to the table, as each of the three members take turns singing, and Jeremy Parker and Darren Korb take turns playing guitar and drums. These attributes help to give Control Group and Hot Swap a much fuller sound and an interesting dynamic not found often in the indie genre though they also help to lend to the musically schizophrenic feel of the album.
The album opens with the poppy, punchy and at points pretty “Obvs” with fuzzy guitar riffs that complement bouncy piano licks. It’s followed by the emo anthem “You Can be the Star,” which starts quietly and slowly builds up to a wall of noisy guitars over a sweetly sung chorus of “You could be the star/that you were always meant to be.” As catchy as it is, it comes off sounding like a one hit wonder of a commercially bred rock band.
Hot Swap begins to take an odd turn beginning with “My Alien” which is a Dinosaur Jr. inspired tune that tells the tale of man who falls in love with an alien. Next is the falsetto vs. baritone “Something You’ll Like,” which lingers on a bit too long and sounds the most out of place on the record. Control Group returns to form on “The Sky is the Same” an angry though slightly subdued rocker with jingly and jazzy guitar and drums. The follow up is the acoustic and piano pop ballad “I Gave Back Your Clothes.”
Hot Swap is a very good and polished record, though at times, due to the fact that all three of the band members take turns singing, it sometimes sounds like a compilation of many different bands. Though perhaps Hot Swap was a sound experiment and hopefully their next record will come off sounding a little more controlled.
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