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Music Review: Twin Atlantic – Vivarium

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It turns out that alternative rock from Scotland sounds just like — alt-rock, with a cool Scottish accent.

Twin Atlantic is a quadruplet, or four-piece (whichever you like), from Glasgow. Sam McTrusty, Ross McNae, Barry McKenna and Craig Kneale are the players and Vivarium is their debut. True to its title (a vivarium is an enclosed environment where animals or plants – or in this case, music – are kept for study), it's a study in determination and competence.

“Lightspeed” is the opening song and it feels familiar enough to keep you interested and shows the band’s ability to play together. According to them, this song embodies their whole band mantra – a determination to play music they like and make their band a success.

They employ lots of hard pauses, that’s what stood out the most to me. It’s like the song takes a deep breath and then changes direction. Another pause or change-up will bring the song back into it's original course. It’s very effective and intriguing. "Old Grey Face" starts using these pauses and the song also features a very polished hard rock guitar sound.

The third track, “You're Turning Into John Wayne”, bemoans the perils of Americanization. Apparently, John Wayne is the epitome of America. McTrusty made this statement regarding the song: “loads of bands put on fake American accents in hopes to be more commercially viable in the US.”

This really struck me as hilarious – I just finished watching The Rocker, and in that movie the drummer of a band is tossed out and they go on to be hugely successful. Upon meeting the band years later, the ex-drummer discovers his American buddies have adopted fake British accents when they became successful. Twin Atlantic, on the other hand, are just keeping their own voice. They want to stay true to their Scottish roots.

Their voice and those Scottish roots results in an overall sound that is very competent – a sound that reminds me of The Atari’s and Collective Soul. They are a good band that sounds good together. In other words, no one element or person dominates the sound. The vocals are compelling, the guitar effective, the drumming very solid and precise – Kneale has good speed, puts the fills just where they should be, and throws in very natural backbeats.

Really, I couldn't think of anything wrong with this band. Confident, competent and foreign. That could make them big in the United States of John Wayne.

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