Even at low volumes, Parts & Labor's 2006 Jagjaguwar release Stay Afraid was the loudest record of that year: It kicked, screamed and exploded like a bottle-rocket fight at a propane factory, and in the process garnered comparisons to Lightning Bolt and early ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Fueled by a drummer swap (say hello to Joseph Wong) and the addition of second guitarist Sarah Lipstate, 2008's Receivers shows the trio-turned-quartet embracing the melodies that previously hid behind their wall of sound. Original members Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw are still masters of skronk and squall, but on Receivers the duo largely trades its punishing aesthetics for R.E.M. jangle and Yes-esque dramatized chord movements — which paint a lasting portrait instead of burning up in an impressive, but all too brief fireworks display.
Here's an MP3 of "Nowheres Nigh" -- which is not even the best song on the album. By far. In fact, Receivers is one of my favorite discs of the year, a brainy distillation of droning pop and subtle programming burbles that's very NYC circa 1980 or so (Feelies, Suicide, etc.). (That's me, Annie Zaleski, talking.)MP3: Parts & Labor, "Nowheres Nigh"