The PhiLL(er)

Three Hundred Cover
The Conformists

Three Hundred
54º 40' or Fight!

And so we raise a salute to a band that starts their album with half a minute of ambient noise, by which I don't mean some sort of electronica nonsense, but, uh, you know, thirty seconds of, I don't know, setting up the last microphone? Putting their fingers in the right places to make a chord? Is it just designed to make you crank the volume up really far? Who cares? Because thirty seconds of not much is a great way to start an album, particularly when track number two starts out with heart-attack inducing arrhythmia and a guy saying no no no no in a way that suggests he's just been shot. Or just done the shooting to someone else, but now he regrets it in a David Berkowitz kind of way.

I'll start this paragraph by pointing out that Three Hundred was recorded by Steve Albini. I will continue it by saying that they inhabit the same musical bedroom as Shellac. And I'll finish it by saying that just because it's the same room that doesn't mean they're slavish imitators or anything. The Conformists have been around long enough to be their own band, and they play from their own corner of the room.

They're not adverse to letting the hi-hat be the only instrument for a few bars. They do seem adverse to spending too much time playing in anything approaching common time. And verse-chorus-verse structures. They do have the decency to start "Black People" by saying thank you. They negotiate a wide variety of volume, time and speed changes. The guitar tone scratches a spot between your brain and skull and makes it itch more. Don’t put this record on as your bedtime music. Do put it on very loudly when your neighbors are home. Especially if you don't like your neighbors. And if your neighbors like James Blunt.

And you'd better say "thank you" back, because the album ends with "You're Welcome".