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(Item no.: 831)

Label: Surrounded by Light
Released: 27 April, 2010

I wonder if Atlanta’s Attention System realize how close they came to broaching the point of no return, how infinitesimal the distance between their combustible darkwave and electro punk and some mass market, made for advertising, ’80s synth rock schlock? And if you think that’s meant to be critical or snarky or insulting, you can suck it. This is some high-wire, tightrope walking shit I’m talking about, and AS handle it deftly with style. Because it’s real easy for this kind of thing to turn out badly. Real ugly. Gutless, spineless, rote, mundane. You doubt me? Take a listen to The Killers sometime.

Fortunately, AS manage to avoid such embarrassing pratfalls and plastic pop pretension by injecting their music with some genuine heart and tenacity while simultaneously retaining the sort of infectious hooks that makes for memorable music. Let’s also consider the fact that at a time when flaccid indie rock and safe, unassuming pop dominates the airwaves and blogosphere, these guys actually want to make you dance. Imagine the nerve! No more passive head bobbing in dull-eyed unison! No more vacant staring and complacent beard stroking! This is your wake up call! Participation is required, movement mandatory! Now dance, motherfucker, dance!

Ultimately, Wait For My Signal, the band’s debut LP, is a dark, pulsing dance rock record made for late night tromps through darkened underground clubs and seedy back alley dives. It’s gritty and dirty; just sinister enough to keep you from settling in too comfortably. There are some black-lit, Interpol-inspired goth nuances—just listen to the way Brian Fisher’s half spoken, half sung vocals linger and drone—but the songs here are too hyperkinetic and propulsive to cater to the musical fetishisms of the bleak and overly mascara-ed. In truth, there is a lot more of The Faint’s retro-futurism at work here: songs that ride in on new-wave synth swells and exit on the heels of sharp, gyrating art-punk guitars and the occasional cacophonous industrial surge. And yet, for all of its dance macabre exhortations and the buzz, click and hiss of keyboards, Wait For My Signal is primarily a guitar, drum and bass-driven record. It’s a collection of rock songs masquerading as dance music for kids who want to frantically pump their fists as much as they want to grind down on their partner.

And it’s the ability to maintain that fine edge between cathartic elation and celebratory escape that makes this record successful. Tracks like the crackling opener “Resistant Transistor,” “Siren’s City” and “Radio Silence” are essentially rock anthems—big, loud and boisterous—washed loosely in a vibrant dance floor veneer. It’s nothing particularly new or necessarily that bold, but its fierce spirit and aura of authenticity make up for the lack of defining ingenuity. Still, even in music there can be too much of a good thing and Wait For My Signal suffers occasionally from a feeling of sameness that makes tracks like “Bot Killer” and “The Curious Times” feel empty and disposable. Attention System are undoubtedly skilled artists but they keep using the same brushes and applying the same textures. In the future greater variance in their approach would allow them to expand their sound and mature as musicians. But for now this is good. It’s solid—at times exhilarating—stuff; an album that should go a long way towards cementing the group’s place as one of Atlanta’s most promising young bands.

Review by: Moe Castro (

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electro wave / alternative
1.Resistant Transistor (4:40)
2.Now's Your Time (3:47)
3.Siren's City (5:06)
4.Bot Killer (4:36)
5.Drastic Measures (2:48)
6.Miss Machine (4:14)
7.Alibi (For a Paranoid Existence) (4:33)
8.The Curious Times (3:45)
9.Radio Silence (4:12)
10.Die Trying (5:16)
11.Nothing in My Head (4:49)
12.Intruder (4:23)
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