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The Snake the Cross and the Crown – Mander Salis

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This band, who will not get me to say its name three times fast, are an interesting combination. At the end of the day, the music is rock and roll, but if you were able to cut it down the middle to see its insides, it would confuse the conclusions that the driving themes of the album are merely melody and songwriting. This album flirts with disaster like a deer sprinting across the freeway during rush hour. In this case, the deer makes it to the trees unscathed. The music is progressive but somehow avoids pretension. It is poppy but somehow avoids being trite. It is adventurous but somehow avoids being boring.

The Snake (etc.) was born, out of all unlikely places, in Huntsville Alabama by two brothers, Franklin and William Sammons. The rest of the band was added over time and the band decided to bring their careers to Santa Barbara California in order to see just how big they could become.

The music is definitely something new and different for Equal Vision records which is definitely known for some of their heavier acts. Plus, with a name like The Snake The Cross and the Crown I don’t initially think lush melodies and layered vocals. I would normally think chunky, sloppy guitars and some serious screaming.

The songs on this album don’t ever approach anything of the sort. The song-craft on this album is by far the best part. These songs don’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but as the band is making its way through these accessible melodies, there are enough little hitches and surprises to keep you interested. There are electronics in some sections without getting overbearing. At one point during “A Gathering of Shades” the organic toys make a debut as we hear some old-school bells ringing out over everything else.

So, I definitely think this is worth checking out. I think if you are a fan of James, Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand or even Modest Mouse you will probably enjoy this. I don’t think they sound like any one of those other bands necessarily, but I guess it wouldn’t be too far out of place to see this band share a bill with one of those other bands.

(You can find out more information on this release at Equal Vision Records)

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