Friday, May 14, 2010

Pack A.D. - We Kill Computers

The Vancouver garage/rock duo of Becky Black and Maya Miller spent most of 2009 touring the countryside in "The Falcon," their 13-year-old, temperamental tour van. Following the 2008 back-to-back double-punch releases of Tinytype and Funeral Mixtape the pair hit the road on an ambitious nation wide tour. Traveling on their own dime and living off the cash they made from their merch table, the Pack A.D. played a staggering 157 live shows by the end of their journey earning the pair a reputation for explosive, beer-and-sweat-drenched live performances. This is rock music as it's ment to be played: hard, dirty and loud.

The Pack A.D. take the idea of stripped-down guitar/drum rock duos to its extreme, often insisting the only instrument you really need is a kick drum. Their new album, We Kill Computers, was conceived on the road as "a kind of a fuck-you to the digital age," as Miller often says. Recorded live to analog tape in under two weeks the new record perfectly captures the raw, live gig feel that this genre of music is known for. “We went in to our practice space for a couple weeks and started coming up with songs,” Black told Listen Dammit in an interview, “It’s not very scientific. We just kind of jam out until something works.”

Built on a blues-rock foundation, the Pack A.D. are often compared to other guitar/drum groups such as the White Stripes and the Black Keys. Black and Miller have voiced concern with these comparisons before, feeling it stereotypes their music. “Naturally, people are going to find something to compare it to," Black says "it’s not like you invented this music.” With We Kill Computers the duo has tried to distance themselves from these comparisons by moving more toward straight-up garage and punk rock. “We are not a blues band, even though people keep putting us there,” says Miller. “We both love the blues, but we are a garage rock group.” They succeed for the most part as the new album does have more of an indie rock flavor to it, but there is still that hint of blues in their music that proves they will never fully shake the influence.

We Kill Computers is full of hard hitting lyrics and savage guitar licks from the wonderful Becky Black, who's sheer vocal power is the biggest highlight on the record. She delivers passionate, unrestrained vocals that run the gamut between grunge-rock snarls and soothing indie-rock croons. Standout tracks such as "The Big Anvil," "Crazy" and the slow-burning "They Know Me" are great examples of Black's range as a singer and songwriter. Drummer and songwriter Maya Miller does a good job setting the pace for the record with piercing cymbals and improvised rhythms. While not the best drummer in the world, she has a unique touch that compliments the gritty style of music the Pack A.D. are known for.

With their unique mix of bluesy garage rock, Black and Miller are hard hitting rock dynamos on the rise. Their music has a depth to it that can easily make you forget that there is only two people and two instruments. In a world where large over-produced rock groups are a dime-a-dozen, the Pack A.D. prove that sometimes two is plenty.