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Monday, February 25, 2008

myspace music monday: The Cyanide Valentine

Talk about perfect timing.  I'm sitting at my computer, getting ready to start my weekly scouring of myspace in search of an artist worth listening to.  I check my email --nothing of note-- go to check my sites (Engadget, Pitchfork, The Superficial), and then decide to swing back by my email once more.  What's waiting for me but an email from Jake Zavracky, lead vocalist and guitarist of Boston-based The Cyanide Valentine, asking me to review a downloadable copy of their new album, The Three Sides of The Cyanide Valentine. Unfortunately, it has always been a policy of Audio Overflow to not review non-physical copies of CDs.  But I downloaded it, liked it, checked out their myspace page, and then decided to feature them on today's myspace music monday.  It's funny how things work out...

The Cyanide Valentine

I was informed  in my brief correspondence with Jake that "it isn't emo despite what everybody seems to expect from the name," to which I responded to myself, "Yeah right, these guys are totally going to be emo."  But I was proven wrong from the moment I headed over to the band's myspace page and began hearing the first song, "Neanderthals."  The band's sound is heavily electronics-based, and gives off a sort of Cibo Matto circa Viva La Woman vibe.  Of course, I'm also hearing a distinct Radiohead influence as well, perhaps even just a touch of Flaming Lips (though I'm far less sure of myself on that one) and Death Cab.  The song is perfectly executed by everyone in the band.  Jake's vocals seem a little out of place at first, but by the time that the chorus rolls around and he's shouting, "They won't make us crawl, they're all neanderthals," he's right at home!  Kate Papineau provides backup vocals here as well, and she sings very delicately, never giving it more than she should.  Overall, the song is flawless.  Really.

"Nosferatu" is another great song, utilizing a funk disco groove to great effect, complete with Bee Gees-esque "aahs" in the background.  Jake sings, "You may be invincible, but inside your heart you're dead."   Just as "Neanderthals" was virtually perfect, "Nosferatu" shows a band who is completely focused with a clear direction.  Everything is so perfectly executed, so polished, that it becomes difficult to not get into it.  The refrain of "Inside your heart, you're dead," is simplistic, but equally effective and poignant.  The band set the song to a video about the infamous Jonestown Massacre and it winds up being a surprisingly decent match for the tragedy.  

"Sugar Coma" is an all-around softer song.  Here, Jake swoons, "Give me just one kiss before I am washed up on the shore," over soft, minimalist synths and guitars.  It's not my favorite song on the site.  It's far from bad, it just doesn't really hit the spot for me.  The final song on the band's myspace page is called "Milk in the Gutter," and it's another softer, more somber song.  This one is a bit more effective though.  While Jake may have been trying to convince me that The Cyanide Valentine is, in fact, not an emo band, something tells me that a lyric like "Smear my blood all around like the lipstick and makeup that touch your mouth," isn't going to work in his favor.  Still, the song is a nice, touching track that is (again) well-executed by the band.  It ends with some very cool, spacey peripheral vocals that I absolutely love.  I guess if there's a good last-impression to leave on someone who may visit your myspace page, that would be it.

The conclusion is this:  head over to and download their album.  Listen to it.  Prepare yourself to hear a lot more from this band.  It's inevitable.  Their music is unbelievably polished, undeniably irresistible, and unquestionably talent-ridden.  I don't consider myself a lucky person.  Quite simply, things don't always go my way.  But I consider myself extremely lucky to have decided to recheck my email less than a few minutes after The Cyanide Valentine's Jake Zavracky emails me about his band.  And you should consider yourself lucky that I have good enough music sense to write about them and introduce them to you.  You're welcome, by the way.

The Official Site (+ Free Album Download)
Allison Pharmakis' myspace Page (Photographer: above band image)


Jorsh said...

Alright, Cale. I'll DL it. But so help me Tom if it's emo...

JD said...

I downloaded this and it is pretty sweet. It was definitely a good move making your debut album free.