My feelings toward Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, they were essential members of At the Drive-In, who crafted some great records but tragically broke up right as they hit their peak with Relationship of Command back in 2000. In the 14 years since the split, those two continued to work together thanks to the formation of The Mars Volta, a band that came out of the gate running with the brilliant De-Loused in the Comatorium back in 2003. I actually consider that last ATDI record and that first Mars Volta record to both be essential pieces of music during my formative years, and continue to regard them with the utmost respect and love. Unfortunately things went a little downhill from there. The Mars Volta went further and further down the prog-rock rabbit hole, and while about half of their six studio albums were worthwhile, none quite retained the magic of their earliest days. There were flashes of brilliance, but you could say it was frustratingly inconsistent. Following the hiatus and subsequent break up of The Mars Volta in 2012, Rodriguez-Lopez moved back to El Paso and formed a new band called Bosnian Rainbows with some old friends, including Teri Gender-Bender from Le Butcherettes. They recorded and released a self-titled album last summer to solid and largely positive acclaim. But Omar and Cedric couldn’t stay away from each other for very long, which is why this past spring they announced the formation of Antemasque, a brand new band with some old familiar faces. In addition to Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala, Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch and Omar’s brother Manfred round out the quartet. As with the first Mars Volta record as well, Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) played bass on Antemasque’s self-titled debut album, which will be out on Tuesday. Of course you can stream the whole thing right now thanks to Noisey. Having listened to it all the way through a couple of times already, I can tell you that it’s certainly different than just about everything else they’ve done to date. Gone are the lengthy prog-rock and psychedelic experiments of The Mars Volta. And while the short, chorus-heavy songs that Antemasque are throwing out here have much more in common with At the Drive-In, the approach isn’t nearly the same both sonically and lyrically. Most notably, Cedric is no longer using $10 vocabulary words in abstract ways to get his point across. This is a very direct and to-the-point project. I’m not as impressed with it as I have been with the previous work that these two have done together, but have a strange feeling this record is going to grow on me over time. I hope you’ll at least give it a chance and see if it’s for you. Perhaps it will inspire you to check out the band’s live show, which is sure to be dynamic and interesting, particularly as Bixler-Zavala can’t seem to sit still on stage no matter what band he’s performing with. Antemasque will be coming to Chicago next Sunday, November 16th for a show at Metro with Le Butcherettes, and that’s something I strongly recommend you check out. At the very least you need to witness Le Butcherettes live, because they’ve totally blown me away every single time I’ve seen them. So come on out to the show. It’s 18+, starts at 8pm and tickets are $21. Should be a fun, if not highly interesting show. Now let me get to this mid-week edition of Pick Your Poison. There’s some quality tracks in this set from Chromatics, IYES, J Tropic, Paperwhite and Sunbears!. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from American Wolf, Jessica Pratt, Lemuria, Little Boots, Tei Shi, Whirr and more.
Sunbears! – He’s A Lie! He’s Not Real!
American Wolf – Evil Eyed
Jessica Pratt – Back, Baby
Lemuria – Foggy Smoke
Little Boots – Taste It
Ryn Weaver – OctaHate (Cashmere Cat Remix)
Tei Shi – See Me
Whirr – Ease