July 2, 2009


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Mars Volta, Octahedron
Warner Bros Records, June 23

Dolling up sluggish emo songs with garish spaceship guitars and mecha-robo post-industrial drumming is a nice way of disguising sluggish emo songs, I’ll give them this, but with the guitar players of most modern bands handcuffed by a music industry that’s afraid of music, it’s a given that there are much better bands out there (I’ll try this one more time: Minus The Bear). Regarding Octahedron, there’s no rational explanation for the overindulgent way-too-many minutes of “Since We’ve Been Wrong,” which amount to an overlong Portishead sample leading into Air trying to sound vaguely Egyptian, all this, mind you, while humdrum, radio-targeted emo-ized vocals run the show (and why does 34-year-old singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s sound like he’s 15, and why the ill-advised Celtic Woman shtick in “With Twilight as My Guide”?). But there’s no rational explanation for Mars Volta itself, other than Omar and his crew of Floyd-loving middle-minds once caught some Warner Brothers exec doing something very, very Republican Congressman-ish in some restroom.

Anyway, forth we slog. Blowing the chance to upgrade Strawberry Alarm Clock for the Web 2.0 generation in “Halo of Nembutals,” the band suddenly decide that the song calls for Styx filler; “Teflon” is like Keith Moon’s slow kid brother playing drums for Rush. B-EWS