Chimes of Bayonets, Indexer (HABITFORMING Records, 2021)

I treat Chimes of Bayonets like a secret I’m willingly trying to spill.

Lend them your ears and they’ll sing you a song, but I can’t promise they’ll try not to sing out of key. I can, however, promise that you’ll hear one of the more exciting modern bands to hail from the East.

There’s a noted air of austere mystery about the Ithaca act, perhaps owing to their relative college town isolation and the shadowy HABITFORMING Records handling Indexer, the group’s brand new three song 7 inch.

Speaking of seclusion, their latest batch of tunes was born of COVID and, fittingly, comes equipped with an overriding sense of uncertainty and a woozy despair.

Despite the custodial names plucked for last year’s Archiver EP and this summer’s latest EP, Indexer, I’ve found it seemingly impossible to file them away appropriately. In fact, I’ve damn near had to forcibly remove the endlessly replayable 3-song 7 inch from my turntable. Still every bit as angular and bass-driven as their previous work, there’s a muscle lent by the ever-reliable J. Robbins’ magical ear and recording prowess. 

Managing both discordance and melody, the bass playing is absolutely amazing. Weaving in and around bending guitar runs and propulsive drums, it’s impossibly busy. This time around, there are hints of everything from Dischord’s buried gem, Medications, and the bellicose shout singing of Bear Vs. Shark. I’d again be remiss to not mention fellow loyalists of the 4-string Nomeansno, as the songs slither along as menacing as they are literate and searching. 

Funnily enough, as I’m a Razorcake subscriber, a recent issue contained a hilarious A/B contrast in their massive review section. Wildly swinging from “It’s not my thing” to one of the most gushing reviews I’ve read in recent memory, I’m decidedly in the camp of the latter. I’d implore the first reviewer to sit with it a bit, as Chimes of Bayonets don’t reveal themselves on the first listen.

There’s a case for third track, “Victimless Crime at 109,” being one of my top songs of 2021. They brazenly ignore if not show disdain for traditional song structure. Unexpectedly, they lurch forward and pull back as often as they propel the song forward.

As a companion to last year’s EP, this feels like an edgier and more pensive flipside to the playful chaos of previous Song of the Day, “Pardon Me Brother.” 

Chimes of Bayonets are doing something that more or less calls to mind no one except for, well, Chimes of Bayonets and that’s cause for celebration. Do yourself a favor, take a chance. The vinyl looks like root beer. Make it float, y’all. 

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