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Antler | review | rock | Lollipop


by Brian Varney

Rising from the ashes of Boston's Roadsaw, who broke up before they were able to reap the benefits of having recorded one of the finest albums of the past few years, 2002's Rawk N Roll, Antler reside in some of the same classic rock territory as their progenitors but focus on the mellower, more emotional "lighter in the air" side of things. Think Neil Young, Thin Lizzy, and especially Lynyrd Skynyrd's slow moments.

Considering these are three of my favorite acts in rock history, I should love Antler. However good the band's intentions are, I don't think Antler really hit the intended targets, at least not as often as they'd like. The similarities to Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially songs like "Simple Man" and "I Need You," are obvious, but what made Skynyrd one of the finest American rock bands ever, among other things, was a gift for genius arrangements that provided a very large canvas upon which the band could incorporate their oft-overlooked blues and R&B roots into the more obvious country and rock roots, all of which pointed singularly towards the epic emotional gut-punches that make their songs so universal and so powerful. Clearly, this is a very special gift, the result of many years of perfecting one's craft, so it would be unfair to expect a relatively new band like Antler to immediately arrive at such a level of greatness. However, when a band so obviously invokes the spirits of their past, such a comparison becomes inevitable.

There are things I like about Antler: I loved Craig Riggs's voice in Roadsaw and I love it just as much here, and songs like opener "Tombstones and Cigarettes" provide great hope for the future. However, at this point, it's tough for me to think of the band as anything but a work in progress, well-meaning youths who have yet to remove the training wheels.

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