Los Angeles’ Controlling The Famous manages a pleasing pop/rock alloy with shades of ska and power reggae, brandishing undertows of psychedelic tones, club rock beats, and post new wave cliques. Their sophomore CD Automatic City, the follow up to their 2005 release Two Birds vs. One Stone, was produced by Alex Newport (The Mars Volta) and crafts dynamic movements and layered instrumentation with a likeness to the sensibilities of Nada Surf and Zox. The grooves and melodic ranges are entrancing without wimping out into sounding homogeneous or generic. They merge straightforward rock influences and compose a coalescence that distinguishes the band among their peers.
The band’s prolific use of vocal harmonies and overdubs networking with the layers of tingling guitar vibrations emboss the tunes with the band’s insignia, compliments of double-duty guitarists and vocalists, Johnny Collins and Max Hellmann. The pop/rock threads on “Detox” are cinched by the rhythmic spikes of bassist Brendan Hughes and drummer Mike Sneider, while “Heart Attack” has undertones of cello spills performed by Jim Barry and citations of mid-eastern exotic spirals on the song’s guitar solo.
The prominent guitar slopes on tracks like “Easy Life” and “Two Sides” transfuse a post new wave delivery on the alternative rock pummeling motions of the drum rolls and bass slides. Selections like “Long Day” and “Maybe We’re Dead” are pop/rock palettes with crusts of reggae dance grooves and buoys of elevating guitar vibrations erecting complementing paths that bring out crispness and brightness in the flickering tones. The lyrical themes make their songs the type that take slips from phases of one’s life with lines like: “You sold your soul in self-defense” from “Detox” and “I need food to eat, a girl where I sleep, and money in my pocket so I don’t have to cheat” from “Two Sides.”
The tempo dynamics are likeable and steeled enough to keep the album from sounding boring or like a copy of someone else`s material. Controlling The Famous are criticized for their guitar vibrations having a likeness to U2, but, alternately, U2 is perceived as having stellar guitar work. In spite of what may be viewed as a close retelling of their post-punk heroes, Controlling The Famous make their sound vibrate with their own inclines and orientations.
Nada Surf – The Proximity Effect
Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
Zox – The Wait