Why do people start bands anymore? To get rich and famous? Compliment re-tweeting? To gain the respect of their peers in the RIAA? I don’t know, and I don’t have a computer so I can’t look it up. But I bet sometimes bands get started with no goal at all, beyond basics like don’t lose the keys to the practice space, and to share the excitement of making music together. From there, the goals become things like, get better at it, and do it more. But, again, no computer here, so, don’t know 100%.
Xetas have been doing exactly that, making wired, joyfully intense music ever since their first 7” in 2014. Their first two albums, ‘The Redeemer’ and ‘The Tower,’ are compact, high-voltage, furniture-throwing gems. With ‘The Cypher,’ they emerge after a year of work as a one-minded beast. The songs blast off and burn, but carry a new depth and weight. Inside gusts of ferocious noise there are subtly sweet melodies that stick in your head; volume gets quiet, tempos charge, slow down, stutter, and implode. The sounds are of a deeper dimension, surprising glimpses of (what’s that?) and (huh wow!). It all creates a rich emotional dimension, which you feel even while the band is thrashing you around in its jaws like an alligator.
Instantly you notice the vocal arrangements. Everybody sings every song, whether dividing verses or in unison, in true crew fashion. It’s a moving statement of intent. Punk rock? To be sure, but punk can mean anything goes. David Petro’s guitars come in countless layers of tension, incorporating punk mowdown and bad trip psych, at times bringing to mind Pen Rollings, Tara Key, and Roger Miller. On “The Objector,” bassist Kana Harris’s voice effortlessly shifts emotional gears as she reflects on power and change, leaving you to meditate on the lyrics “no one here will remember the old landscape.”
Maybe it’s a concept record? Could be, if the concept is figuring out how to survive by being yourselves, how to get better and better every day at being a band, and leaving nothing on the court. Isn’t that a concept every band should have? Is that even a concept? Isn’t that reality? It’s like I have to look everything up these days. – James McNew