The Airborne Toxic Event, 'All at Once'
Orchestral rock with (fairly successful) Arcade Fire aspirations
Release date: April 26, 2011
Record label: Island/Def Jam
Official website: http://aao.theairbornetoxicevent.com/
The buzz: This grandiose Los Angeles alt-rock band scored a hit a few years ago with "Sometime Around Midnight" (YouTube it—you'll recognize the song). Thanks to that single's success, the group became a staple of late-night talk shows, landed tours with the Kings of Leon and Franz Ferdinand, and even had "Midnight" featured as the intro song on U2's recent 360 tour. "All at Once" is the band's second album, recorded with Dave Sardy (OK Go, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Ting Tings).
The verdict: Airborne Toxic Event deliver epic rock with orchestral underpinnings, rich baritone vocals (with some female back-up) and some hints of '80s New Wave and '90s alt-rock guitar crunch, meaning the Arcade Fire comparisons that dogged the group the first time around aren't going to go anywhere with "Once." But the group delivers the kind of epic, soaring rock that simply overwhelms its audience. It’s a summer blockbuster with just enough heft to survive repeated listens. Plus, the album's middle half shows a nice, quieter side and "Changing" nicely dovetails from the band's sound, suggesting the Clash covering Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Did you know? They're literate! The band is named after a section of the Don DeLillo novel "White Noise," and frontman Mikel Jollett is also a magazine writer and author—his short story "The Crack" was featured in the uber-hip literary journal McSweeney's.
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