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All the Saints

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Psychedelic yet direct, raging but tuneful, All the Saints’ debut LP Fire On Corridor X bulldozes preconceptions at volume. Named after a section of the I-22 highway connecting the trio’s native Alabama to Mississippi, the cryptic title track is a hypnotic mind-meld of their primary influences, welding a Loop-sized space-groove to The Gun Club’s lyrical bite. “That song is about where we grew up,” explains singer and guitarist Matt Lambert. “I try to have a little bit of where we’re from in everything we do, without flying rebel flags and playing alt-country. The paradox of our band is that we’re from the South, but you’d never be able to guess.”

Lambert, bassist/co-vocalist Titus Brown and everybody’s soon-to-be fave new drummer Jim Crook moved to Atlanta in neighboring Georgia in 2004, attracted by the bohemian state capitol’s liberal atmosphere (“it’s the New York of the South”) and a fertile music scene that has spawned the likes of Deerhunter and Black Lips. All The Saints came into existence a year later, their moniker inspired partly by an old Verbena song and partly by an outsized fleur-de-lis saints symbol which a tramp had spray-painted gold and sold to the nascent combo at one of their early gigs.

This duality is carried through album stand-outs ‘Sheffield’ and ‘Leeds’, which highlight the group’s impressive range. The former is a controlled acid bath, brimful of scathing asides about small town attitudes and repression (“empty your church for a while”). The latter wraps its guarded existentialism in a gently reverbed jangle, cut in one-take on a six dollar acoustic guitar Lambert purchased from a thrift store. “Leeds and Sheffield are both cities on the interstate in Alabama,” notes the committed Anglophile, who was turned on to My Bloody Valentine, Ride and The Jesus And Mary Chain by an indie radio station his elder sister used to tape in the early ’90s. “We’d see these signs on the drive to Atlanta and realize that they also correlated with cities in England.”

The hulking riffs and accusatory tone of de facto theme tune ‘Regal Regalia’ - which, with its towering “All the saints!” refrain, was the first song the band wrote together - and whirlwind twin ‘Papering Fix’ blend their forebears’ dissonant sonics with meaningful text and emotion. All the Saints show that it’s possible to touch souls at the same time as blitzing synapses, their front man reflecting that with many of his lysergic inspirations “the tones and the vibe are so dead-on, but sometimes the lyrics can be very secondary. I’m not saying we’re Bob Dylan or anything, but we’re trying to blend this music with lyrics that people can connect to.”

To achieve this goal, they hunkered down in local studio Nickel & Dime for a fortnight in April 2007 with producer/engineer Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley), mixing through summer and finishing up by October. Allen’s hip hop background belies a keen understanding of what fires a nuanced modern rock band. Blown away by a wildly dilated live show the previous winter, he encouraged the musicians to hone their epic ideas into laser guided melodies. Hence the near seven minute Outs alternates its churning, tidal-axe tumult with a graceful piano reverie. As Lambert recalls: “Ben said that if you’re going to take somebody to the wonderland, you gotta sprinkle some pixie dust along the way.”

‘Fire On Corridor X’ delivers that focused magic in spades: a seamless yet dynamic set that demands to be played loud and often, revealing more with each stereo-engulfing, brain-rewiring spin.