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msnbc.com contributor
updated 12/15/2006 2:35:44 PM ET 2006-12-15T19:35:44

In conversation, pulling together a definitive list of genre-defining descriptors that do Snowden justice is inexplicably difficult. Experimental, alt, dance, new wave — maybe. But words can adequately define mere bits and pieces of the Atlanta foursome’s inventive collection of “what is it exactly?” rock.

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Their secret, perhaps, lies in the band’s darkly delicious pile of two-pattern guitar, slap-your-leg drums and foot-stomping bass, which upon audible contact, courses through the body like fire.

Fronted by Jordan Jaffares’ double-vocaled lilt (along with Corinne Lee, Chandler Rentz and David Payne), Snowden’s crew consistently pleases, throwing down a wide range of arrangements that fall more in line with Interpol’s singular NYC aesthetic than most bands within spitting distance of their hometown. Not to be dismissed is the band’s penchant for winding simple beginnings into complex endings, often warping an otherwise straightforward track into a sophisticated landscape of distortion and hi-hat smacks and cracks.

A bedroom project (with credits expanded to include Erik Wofford), Snowden’s “Anti-Anti” retains its at-home sensibility, eliciting an identifiable tone that rolls smoothly from open to close. On the title track Jaffares croons, his haunting voice emanating through: “I huff gasoline from your shirt and blur the questions that no one could ever answer / I empty my head of all that I know / seems like the best view is the one from below.” It continues: “We are anti-movements, we are anti-anti / one time we believed, but now it’s passed and cliché / she’ll say anything to make you move again/but is it the truth? / I don’t care if it is.”

Pretty gloomy stuff, but to be expected from a band touting a name seized from the pages of Joseph Heller’s satirical classic, “Catch 22.” Where Heller’s characters eventually settle on absolution, Snowden prefers to walk in the opposite direction, steering headlong into the austere. “Black Eyes” extrapolates: “In your black eyes I hoped that I would find that you were hiding / you were hiding something.” The track oozes aphotic stylings reminiscent of Joy Division and The Cure; if the musical similarities weren’t enough, Jaffares states it explicitly: “You looked dark and pensive as your heels hit the floor to the blaring Division / but you didn’t have much to say / but you were beautiful anyway.”

While Jaffares contemplates behind the mic, the band broods, pitting melody vs. rhythm to create a cacophonic mish mash of bumping beats and straying guitar lines. Thankfully, when the monotony of a few too many T-patterns goes sour, Snowden gives it to us straight; no clichés or kitschy catch, just solid, bust it from the heart honesty. Case in point, “Stop Your Bleeding”: “When the sinner came knocking, you sent him home / I used to think all it would take was some time / but now I know you’re a waste of my time.”

Such brutal candor isn’t ignored — Snowden embraces its “hell with it” attitude, and bangs out music to match. But on “Anti-Anti” Snowden creates plenty more to admire than angry words. To find it, all you have to do is ignore the urge to dance long enough to sit down and listen.

To learn more about Snowden, visit: http://www.snowden.info/.

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