Joel McAdams of Beaten Awake has confessed to being a big Lou Barlow fan, and on the group's third album, Thunder$troke, it sounds as if the student has come within spitting distance of surpassing the teacher. Thunder$troke is that modern rarity, an honest-to-Pete indie rock album that embraces the moody pleasures of the golden age of Sebadoh and their kin while revealing just enough melodic tricks of their own that Beaten Awake sound like peers rather than followers. Beaten Awake don't wear their heart on their collective sleeve, and the meanings of their songs are more felt than clearly stated, but principal songwriters McAdams and Jon Finley can write melodies eloquent enough to tell interesting stories even without help from the vocals, and it's the simple, determined ebb and flow of the tunes that makes Thunder$troke work. The guitar work on songs like "Suite Cheetah" and "Gyro Quake" give the songs texture and propulsive energy, while the undertow of keyboards lends body and shading without getting in the way. The woozy but somehow sure-footed waltz of "I'm Not Asking for the Moon" is elegant while conjuring a very real sense of menace. And if the rhythm section doesn't go out of its way to call attention to itself, it sure knows how to keep the band locked in place while giving the music just enough room to groove. Back in the early '90s, Beaten Awake would have sounded like the next big hipster thing; today, they seem like a welcome anomaly, a band ever so slightly out of time, but Thunder$troke isn't an exercise in misplaced nostalgia but music that confirms some ideas don't have an expiration date; this is rock that's smart and soulful and fresh while keeping an eye on both past and present. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Reviews are not available for this product.