review: The Reptilian – Low Health

Julian Koster must have experienced some difficult in 2008 convincing his band (maybe ex) bandmates that his side-project The Singing Saw at Christmastime was infact a technically brilliant, hard-hitting concept album. I mean, how often is it you come across someone bending a sheet of metal up and to the tune of O Little Town Of Bethlehem and just how common is it for an artist to appeal both to Christians, lumberjacks and Animal Collective fans all in one go? Julian enthralled and Pitchfork gave him 7/10. In some way or another, we can try and compare such a conundrum to Kalamazoo’s The Reptilian as the vast majority of their friends seem to like doing things far more simply than themselves. Or maybe we should scrap that analogy altogether.

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Low Health has been an album long time waiting for some. In the space between itself and their only other record to supersede 6 songs Full Health, the band have parted ways with a guitarist and aged quite significantly. The Reptilian are to me what Native could have become if they a) didn’t spend about $50,000 on their equipment b) sign to Sargeant House (enlist press assets?) and c) perhaps started taking their ‘music careers’ more seriously. Low Health isn’t trying to be anything but it’s only blend of ballsey dischordant punk that happens to contain some of the most playful guitar work in the business.

With these new songs, The Reptilian have really had a good go at splitting out the fiercer and the groovier. Tracks like Sam Haircut (my favourite) and DK Mode are build around the lighter touch of drummer Dan’s vocals, while Chimney Wizard seem produced more round the coarseness of bassist Jon’s. Magic moments like 1:13 on closing song Underwater Kiss Make-up make you believe that there’s not just one person writing all the songs here.

You’d expect a band that’s been playing this kind of thing for five years to pack it all in and try something simpler, but oh no, these three won’t be defeated. Marvelous stuff.

Buy: 12″ from Count Your Lucky Stars Records (US)

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