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Between the Rooms: Transmobile

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader

2007-05-21


Duo can sometimes seem like a dirty word. Being a solo musician means never having to answer to anyone else and the examples of such are a mile long. Trios have the stream-lined thing down: Guitar, bass and drums. Power trio usually comes to mind, as do groups such as Rush or Sugarplastic. But duo? Duo usually causes names like Seals & Crofts or Loggins & Messina to spring to mind. Usually. Thankfully there are others out there such as the White Stripes and CocoRosie. On the local front it includes Left Lane Cruiser and the Freezing Scene. Between the Rooms is another in the duo category and much like those other two-man bands they sound like there are twice as many in the group.

Kris Graft and Philip Kurut are the two responsible for creating some of the best Pixies-inspired music in a long while. They have spent the better part of this decade creating what has become their debut full-length album, Transmobile, and the result is fifteen tracks that all seem to kick down your door and then kick in your teeth. They are, in a word, relentless.

The liner notes to the album are quick to point out that 'Nobody' plays bass, keytar, cello mandolin or jawharp on the album. Instead, Graft is credited with guitar and vocals, while Kurut is given credit for drums and vocals. Graft doesn't so much play his guitar as he attacks it, creating the sort of noises that prompted Rage Against the Machine to insist that no computers or programming equipment were used on their albums. Such is the case here. His vocals can leap from rough and gravelly to quirky and sinister in the same song, many times the same line. This sort of delivery keeps the songs, and more importantly the album, fresh, inventive and surprising. Kurut's drumming is really good and really loud. It's so good and so loud, in fact, that it reminds me of Dave Grohl. This is why it's not lazy to compare the tunes to Nirvana, which of course makes the Pixies similarities all the more relevant.

Speaking of the tunes, there are quite a few doozies on here. “Spacecar” kicks things off nicely with what could be described as 'call and response' between the drums and guitar and also features tugboat-esque background vocals. “Fed” may or may not be written about those creatures featured in the best film to star both Corey Feldman and Phoebe Cates. “The Yard” is the spookiest track on the album and the best song about paranoia since Rockwell's “Somebody's Watching Me.” The slightly funky/hip-hop inspired “Interesting” has elements of Urban Dance Squad and serves as a nice halfway mark for the album, while “Nickel & Dime” is the closest the album ever comes to full-on metal with a tip of the hat to bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Other highlights of Transmobile would be “Guilty Hand,” which features some of the fiercest drumming on the album that is matched by a truly menacing chorus, "Watch what you say!" and “Bamboo Cage,” a song that will appeal to anyone who grew up playing the video game Spy Hunter.

Between the Rooms will officially release Transmobile on June 1st and play a release party for the album on June 2nd at Lucky's Terrapin Grill at Dupont Crossing. They will be joined that evening by the Freezing Scene. The album will be available at Wooden Nickel, CDBaby.com, Digstation.com and all Between the Rooms live shows. To keep up to date on their performances, check out: www.myspace.com/betweentherooms

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