Although the band Antler hails from Boston, they sound more like they should be hanging out on Austin’s 6th Street than in the cold Northeast.
They style themselves as “roots rock,” and while there’s a flavor of folk, there’s more rock than roots in most of their music. The band’s debut, self-titled album Antler sounds the way good beer tastes: smooth and flavorful with just a little bite. Even when lead singer Craig Riggs is really belting it, his voice remains unstrained. But don’t take that to mean he lacks passion or range; he’s got plenty of both. He’s just able to display it without roughing up your ears. In fact, again like good beer, the band warms its listeners.
Antler harmonizes beautifully, and Antler is incredibly well-mixed for something the band considers a “homegrown experience.” The band recorded in its own studio with Riggs and bass player Quinn doing most of the tracking themselves before having Andrew Schneider mix the album. The final outcome blends together in a very listenable way.
The band cites Lynyrd Skynyrd, CCR and Marvin Gaye as some of its influences, although Antler certainly doesn’t lean too heavily on those sounds, instead only appropriating them to create something that is uniquely their own. Antler is a dark album, suited to a long drive in the middle of the night. Songs like “Tombstones and Cigarettes” and “Blood on the Moon” belong on soundtracks to movies like Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.
The only drawback to this album comes from the CD design itself, which uses a metallic silver printing on a brown background, making the CD and liner notes incredibly difficult to read. One has to hold them up and turn them in the light to decipher them.
Antler becomes available from Tortuga Recordings on October 26, 2004, and the band is touring through early 2005. There’s a possibility they will make a stop at SxSW in March–which they absolutely should, because they’ll fit right in. . . And yet undoubtedly stand out at the same time.