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Tendril, Anaphase, Baby!

The first thing that struck me about Tendril was their fascinating album title, Anaphase, Baby!, the first I'm aware of to refer to a stage of mitosis. This should immediately clue in the listener that he is in the presence of an intellectual, whether he takes that as a positive is his own lookout. Personally, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, as I have a tendency to do the same thing myself. I feel a kind of kinship with a songwriter who, instead of crediting the writers of "music and lyrics," chooses to recognize the contributors of the "skeleton" and "integument" (had to look that one up) while putting out an album of solid quality.

I have to admit that this usually isn't my type of music, but there are a few songs on Anaphase, Baby! that don't instantly jump into the "it's too loud and I'm too old" portion of my brain. And after a few listens, the seemingly ubiquitous grinding fades into the background, leaving the listener with the sense that there is a novel songwriter at work. Primary songsmith Darren Paul's lyrics don't follow the normal poetic verse scheme, and sometimes they don't rhyme at all, but they still go wonderfully with his unconventional music.

"The Invisibles" introduces the listener to exactly what to expect from Tendril--hard-hitting rock and roll with punk and metal influences that doesn't let up unless there's a good reason. One of those reasons just happens to also be my favorite track on Anaphase, Baby! (and one of the two free downloads on the Tendril Army website), "The Love is Dying." Along with the usual hard-driving double-guitar assault, heavy melodic bass, and precise pounding drums, the band offers up some sweet harmonies for our listening enjoyment along with a jangly guitar solo (great Caesar's ghost!). This reviewer believes that, even if Paul should happen to get happy somewhere down the road, his underlying ability at pop songcraft will allow Tendril to remain a viable force.

Other highlights include "Pisleen" (and its not-to-be-sung-at-work chorus of "sweet automatic baby pushing on"), "Storage" (a distinctly non-supportive answering machine message music), and "Galaxy High" (which contains the rallying cry of "anaphase me"). This is also the first time I've experienced a hidden track that occurs before the first song. If there hadn't been a listing for "Song 0" in the credits, I wouldn't have even known to look for it (start the CD, then rewind). In summary, Anaphase, Baby! is a solid offering from Tendril and while on the surface they don't really seem to be offering anything you haven't heard before, the enigmatic songwriting underneath often takes it above the usual.

(For more information, visit the band's website. For even more information, click on the "Visit the old site" link down the page.)

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