Most bands falsely advertise -- they describe their sound ad nauseam as different and unclassifiable, but a good listen usually outs them as either deceived or uninitiated. In contrast, Tempe's Batter the Drag (a hip '50s term for playing music on the street) oozes originality. BTD succeeds because it knows when to say when -- dissonant chord arrangements, oddly satisfying harmonies, and jagged rhythm changes are all executed with enough technical deftness to make musicians in the crowd grin while not alienating the average listener. So, what do you call it? Crowd-pleasing math grunge? Throbbing alterna-power gristle? A blessing? Whatever the case, songs on the band's new CD The Big Sleep, like "Ridin' the Fishtail" and "Backmask Facelift," crash with the heaviness of Voivod and Black Flag while pulsing with the off-kilter pop appeal of Samiam. For bands out there still confused about what's unclassifiable, here's a tip -- check out Batter the Drag for being different in all the right ways.
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