Useless Keys – Is The Painting Changing Useless Keys – Is The Painting Changing

Useless Keys - Is the Painting Changing

Useless Keys - Is the Painting Changing

I always wondered what hopeless gloom sounded like if that hopeless gloom wore a leather jacket and flicked cigarette butts into the ocean. Los Angele‘s acolytes of despondency, Useless Keys make an admirable debut EP with Is The Painting Changing? The title, no doubt some sort of idiosyncratic inside joke, gives the audience no hints or directions to what this band is and what they are about. Their music adds to this delightful game of puzzles with an odd yet somewhat poetic blend of mid 90’s alternative rock and late 80’s shoe-gaze. Since both of the two components are incredibly moody and sensitive, Is The Painting Changing? is a somber party where everyone ate your birthday cake and spilled soda on your grandmother’s carpet. The music is not as fatalistic as Codeine or any of the other suicidal Slowcore acts, but this one knocks at the gates of utter hopelessness. Despite the harrowing overtones, Useless Keys showcases a sense of beauty and haunting melody in the depths of drudgery.

Is The Painting Changing? begins with “White Noise” a song which could be labeled a Failure plagiary if it weren’t so obvious and done with such execution. “Down Threw” is by far the most accomplished and single ready track from the EP and heavily borrows melodies from the Pixies and Nirvana. The similarities and liberties with style do not hinder this EP as it crafts a certain time and place for the listener. We have reached a time in our collective history where throwbacks and plagiary could be considered a sense of flattery. The two ending tracks, while commercially weaker, show interesting signs if developed further.  “Arizona State Highway” starts off strong and ends somewhere between Bar Rock and why I stopped listening to Grunge. The title track ends the EP with a wall of solemn despair. The song seems to be following in the footsteps of iLIKEtrains and The Twilight Sad just without the crisp over-the-seas accents.

Many times, I enjoy EPs for their brevity and compact statements. Is The Painting Changing, however begs for a longer running time.  This is not only to satisfy listeners but explain itself more thoroughly. By the end of 16 minutes, the listener is left with more irritating questions than optimistic interest. I am not here to tell artists what to do; however this record grabs listeners by the throats and lets them go way to soon.  The heavy noise and moody imagery are present without accent or attention. Furthermore, the same thing could be said about the melodies leaving the record and the band floating in a limbo between genres and direction. While I have made mention of the desultory nature of this record; its sheer accidental charm can not be ignored.

Is The Painting Changing invites you into a narcotic world of candles and wooden cable drums used as tables. I have tried not to think about shady shooting galleries, opium nightmares and surfing whenever listening but it is almost impossible. Useless Keys has my glassy eyed attention. A full length follow-up could be utterly disastrous or one of the best records of the year.

Useless Keys - Is The Painting Changing, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2010-06-07T13:38:30-07:00 rating 2.0 out of 5

2 Responses about “Useless Keys – Is The Painting Changing”

  • Charles says:

    HA! What’s deeper than smoking at the grunion run? For some reason I haven’t been able to escape the anticlimactic fuzz of Salem. Sounds like the two acts should fuck by the lights of their aunt’s LeBaron.

  • charlotte says:

    I absolutely LOVE this EP & cannot wait for the full length!!! Exciting that beautifully felt and interesting music is still alive amidst all of the soulless trash around.