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HO HO WHO: Long Beach’s psychedelic punk band Crystal Antlers hold the dubious distinction of having its debut album, 2009’s Tentacles, be the last new release on famed Chicago indie Touch & Go. Label-less, the band spent a summer in Mexico for inspiration and the sunshine seems to have paid off: Crystal Antlers emerged with a self-released a 7-inch and a new album expected this spring. You can get a taste of three new songs at Room 205, a web series sponsored by the bag company Incase.
10,000 WATTS A’ WATTING: “10,000 Watts,” the band’s contribution to Target’s hip-to-be-square compilation The Christmas Gig, is a rollicking surf-inspired ditty and a playful reminder that not every holiday song requires sentimental stories about paupers buying footwear. Presumably drawing inspiration from the electrifying lunacy of the Griswolds—-The Sleigher is beginning to notice a National Lampoon theme developing—-the band successfully smooths out its rough edges for a more accessible, organ-driven pop sound. Lead singer Jonny Bell’s raspy voice might not be built for yuletide crooning, but Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho!” chants are a goofy, fun touch.
DIM LIGHT A’ SHINING : As if Crystal Antlers intentionally set out to score a national ad campaign, the song retains the mild stench of homogenized wackiness found in all Target commercials. When spliced into a 30-second clip for television, “10,000 Watts” sounds more like studio musicians attempting ‘an upbeat, vaguely alternative sounding holiday jingle’ than something recorded by former labelmates of The Jesus Lizard and Negative Approach.
CHEER FACTOR: 6/10. The Sleigher can’t help but begrudgingly hum along, even if hearing it unconsciously reminds him to pick up laundry detergent and garbage bags.
WATCH: Crystal Antlers’ “10,000 Watts”