Conflict Resolution (Finally)

Hey all you Radio KRUD fans (if such a thing exists anymore)! Rival Dave is back from a hefty hiatus. I’ll have to admit that I got really bored with the whole format of the thing, which is why I couldn’t bring myself to update for so long. I’m going

to try and change up my writing style a bit so I can rediscover what I originally loved about the whole KRUD thing and avoid falling into that rut again.

So to start with, I guess I should get to a band that quickly became a personal favorite of mine after they submitted music to me a few years ago: The Passive Aggressives. Not only are they an incredibly talented group with a unique sound, but I feel like I owe a debt to them. When they sent me a second album to review, I found the standard promotional material slipped inside the CD case, but wasn’t I surprised when my previous post about the band was quoted alongside reviews from magazines and other more traditional media outlets.

With flattery like that, I feel guilty for getting to their album Conflict Resolution practically two years after it was released. At least I can hope that that any hype, no matter when it comes out, is always beneficial. And, like I said, I owe the band for thinking enough of my post to quote it in their promo material.

So here we go…


The Passive Aggressives: Jose Santiago (Vocals, Guitars, and Percussion), Keren Gaiser (Lead Vocals, Percussion, and Keyboards), Damian Lynch (Vocals, Bass, Ukulele, and Percussion), and Tim Dayner (Vocals, Drums, and Percussion)

First of all, let me say that The Passive Aggressives seem to have come a long way in such a short amount of time between their self-titled EP and Conflict Resolution. They, of course, still have that heavy-hitting, crunchy, and bass-laden sound they established in their EP, which is evident in songs like “Soundtrack to the Voices in My Head.” I’m actually listening to Conflict Resolution on my PS3 as I write this post (my PC isn’t putting out good sound write now, so my PS3 is my best bet for good sound output), and when I looked back to the TV as that track started, the visualizer was of a hilly landscape rushing towards the screen. It was a strangely appropriate image what with the fast pace of the song, the deep, pounding drums, the motor-like buzz of the guitars, and the frantic, sometimes snarling, vocals. It’s not hard to imagine yourself jetting down a long stretch of highway, watching the scenery fly by with “Soundtrack to the Voices in My Head” blasting out of speakers.

But The Passive Aggressives have also shown with Conflict Resolution that they are capable of producing soft, emotional songs that rock just as hard, such as “Slice It Away.” This is one of those songs where it’s hard to tell exactly what message or story the lyrics are supposed to convey, which is a good thing. The lyrics are clever, emotionally evocative, and they leave the listener thinking and coming up with their own interpretation. The beginning line, “I open up my eyes to find pills at my fingertips,” along with lines like, “This present situation is mostly self-inflicted,” and, “Head that’s been aching for days, so much that I can’t see straight,” would make one think that this is just a song about struggling with drug addiction. Then there are lines about “flashing headlights,” “traffic copters circling,” and “floating through a spiderweb of shattering glass,” which is a really clever image, by the way. So did the person in this song just get into a car crash and fly through their windshield as a result of drugs and alcohol? I’m guessing so. But no matter what your interpretation is, it’s a great song that you will want to listen to several times over.

Then there’s weirder songs like “Lulla-Bye Nation,” which kinda sounds like… well, a lullabye. I don’t know who of you will recognize this other song, but it reminded me of “Darlin’ Ukulele” by Jolie Holland since they’re both catchy, simple little tunes with minimal instrumentation (i.e. a ukulele and a xylophone). “Lulla-Bye Nation” sort of digresses from the sound and style of the rest of the album, but The Passive Aggressives are by no means a traditional rock band, so it’s a strange fit with the inherent weirdness of The Passive Aggressives (not that weirdness is a bad thing, mind you).

Speaking of weirdness, The Passive Aggressives even do a cover of “Happy Together” by The Turtles. I’ll admit that when I first heard this song, or when I first hear most covers for that matter, I was immediately dismissive. “What the hell have they done to this classic pop song?” That’s what I thought to myself. But eventually I had to realize that there’s nothing wrong with a unique interpretation of a song, no matter how thoroughly it’s ingrained into our cultural unconsciousness. What’s especially unique about this cover are the odd vocal harmonies. Keren Gaiser takes the lead with her sultry singing and one of the other members (I honestly don’t know which one) harmonizes in a deep, breathy voice. The contrast between the two vocals is so great that it puts you off at first, but they end up working really well together once you get into the song. Add onto that strange vocal mix some grinding guitars, a thumpy, funky bass, and a trippy guitar solo and you get a cover of “Happy Together” unlike any other you’ve heard before.

So to summarize Conflict Resolution and The Passive Aggressives as a whole: funky, crunchy, thumpin’, bumpin’, sometimes mellow, always rockin’, and definitely weird, but weird in the best way possible.

Well, that’s about it for this post. Hopefully, I can keep up with a decent pace with the posts in the future. Keep reading and providing feedback.

Buy Conflict Resolution at CD Baby,
Amazon, or iTunes.

The Passive Aggressives – Soundtrack to the Voices in My Head
The Passive Aggressives – Happy Together
The Passive Aggressives – Slice It Away
The Passive Aggressives – Lulla-Bye Nation

Also make sure to check out The Passive Aggressives on YouTube and MySpace.

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