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Reviews: Me You Us Them & Bloody Knives Split (Triple Down, 2011)

Me You Us Them and Bloody Knives split single

Whether the gateway drug function of split seven-inches has been diminished by file-sharing and streaming media is up for debate, but even if it’s no longer the easiest way to encounter a few new bands, the format can still work. Consider this split between Brooklyn’s Me You Us Them and Austin’s Bloody Knives, which has already prompted me to track down their respective 2010 full-lengths.* Both bands have been lumped in with the shoegaze revival, which fits Bloody Knives better than Me You Us Them, but neither band should be discounted as a stock “Fender Jaguar + Boss PN-2 Tremolo Pan Pedal = Shoegaze!” act. That alone should pique your interest, but an interesting bait and switch on the part of Me You Us Them should maintain it.

Bloody Knives pull off a neat trick with “I Was Talking to Your Ghost”—as the drums, guitar fuzz, and especially bass speed along, Preston Maddox’s vocals float calmly overhead, seemingly disinterested by the racing pulse below. It’s not far off from Oliver Ackermann’s approach in A Place to Bury Strangers, but the lack of gothic overtones to Maddox’s vocals is refreshing. Bloody Knives’ 2010 LP Burn It All Down offers a bit more variety, hitting on the drum-machine dream-pop of early Cocteau Twins, the aggression of APTBS, and the 8-bit textures and bright melodies of the sadly departed Depreciation Guild. Burn It All Down is available for free download from Bandcamp right now. Keep an eye out for their upcoming remix album, Burn It All Up, which should be available from Killredrocket Records in the near future.

No shoegaze touchstones are needed for Me You Us Them's "Research." If you’d told me in January that I’d make a positive comparison to ’90s Amphetamine Reptile outfit Calvin Krime in a 2011 review, I’d assume that either Sean Tillman came out with an atypically aggressive Sean Na Na or Har Mar Superstar single, not that an unfamiliar band was mining similar territory. But the combination of abrasive screaming, driving three-piece rock, and a pressure-relieving melodic chorus recalls the Calvin Krime playbook. It’s hard to tell if the melodic lead is treated guitar or fuzzy synth, but either way, it’s been floating through my head the past few days. I don’t mean to sell MYUT short with the Calvin Krime comparison, especially since that band might not have pulled off this song’s bass-driven bridge or the buried vocals of “Will we ever wake up?” building into screams in the outro as deftly, but I appreciate revisiting the sound.

Here’s the real shocker: “Research” is an outlier in Me You Us Them’s catalog. I missed the boat on their 2010 Post-Data full-length, but it offers a striking mix of Polvo’s woozy riffage, Paik’s early guitar textures (especially Hugo Strange), and the Swirlies’ off-kilter melodies with a touch of punk aggression. In other words, it fits into a fine tradition of using shoegaze impulses in more muscular, less ethereal song structures. “As of Now” is a good starting point.

Considering that I’ve checked out both band’s albums and am particularly keen on spending more time with Me You Us Them’s Post-Data, you can easily chalk this split up as a rousing success. You can stream both songs over at Bandcamp and order the 7” from Triple Down Records or Killredrocket Records.

* The ability to quickly follow up on each of these bands is a welcome departure from the old routine of split singles, when I’d hear a great new band only to learn that their only other released tracks are on an out-of-print local compilation, their albums are only available in Denmark, or they’d split up before recording a full-length.