Mega X Brand - "Halogen"
(Nutracorp Records 2001, CD)

From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)

These guys obviously like Joy Division. They're hardly a tribute band, or even slavishly imitational; they still sound like themselves (after all, they're from Brooklyn, not Manchester). It may not even be conscious, but the elements - guitars that either play spiky chords or minor chorusy leads, the Hook-y driving, melodic bass, and the morose vocals - are all present, to one degree or another, on most of the songs, with "Skirting Staid" and the album closer "White City" being a prime examples. But there are many more elements present on this album, from the cut-up techno bubblegum of the first song, "Universe City" ("5 Cent Sugar Cane" also goes for catchy melodicism), to murky distorto vocals in "My Brother's Got The Stereo" recalling the industrial space/psych of the 1980s, from Chrome to the Butthole Surfers to early F/i, or the blurred jazzy chords of "Solve A Dor Hey" (is that supposed to be a surrealist pun?). And some pieces sound completely different, such as the noise-plus-flute of "Broken Down Seti". Since the album mostly sounds like an "on-the-computer" production (complete with programmed percussion, which sometimes makes for a Krautrock-ish pulse, as on "Pash for Chloe"), it's a nice relief for "Free Verse Gold" (a bit of rather Ratledge-esque fuzz organ noodling) to be low-fi and distorted enough that it could have only been recorded on a 4-track or other cassette machine. Although it would have probably benefitted from more craft applied to the songwriting (or from lower technology forcing a longer, more developed production time), there's enough diversity here, despite the one obvious influence, for this one to be both interesting and enjoyable.

For more information you can visit the Megaxbrand web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Megaxbrand; PO Box 150803; Brookly, NY 11215-0803.

Reviewed by Doug Pearson

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