Crystal Antlers, 'Tentacles' (Touch And Go)

Critical Mass
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by Abigail Everdell

In 2008, this SoCal stoner-rock sextet joined the troika of excellent Crystal bands (Castles, Stilts) on the strength of a self-released EP (produced by Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens) and a relentless touring ethic. The group's first full-length channels their proggy percussion, guitar deluges, and spectral organ into a bluesier, more anxiously desperate quest for catharsis. But their absolute focus liberates them, as bursts of chaotic instrumentation coalesce behind Jonny Bell's frayed yowls on the patiently unfolding psych of "Andrew" and "Memorized." His intense lament on "Time Erased" -- "Now it's too late / To find our way back home" -- sounds as inspiring as it is ominous.

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