Rose thorns would be more satisfying

By By Spencer Young

By Spencer Young

Bound StemsAppreciation NightFlameshovel RecordsTwo-and-a-half out of five stars

Bound Stems–as the name suggests–is a band of angsty, budding boys who attempt to get everything out on Appreciation Night.

This results in anecdote after anecdote of “telling in order to live:” every lyric is past tense, past rumination and past-past.

The guitar–and really every instrument, for that matter–on the album follows the 1:4 approach: One minute is spent conceptualizing and loosely creating a framework of patterns, four minutes are spent playing shapeless shambles. This results in earnest sounds and, occasionally, bright lighting.

However, halfway siding with spontaneity usually ends in a failure of heaped loose ends for Bound Stems.

But, like I said, there are moments.

Fractions of songs–maybe one-sixteenth of them–stand out from track to track and cause the tilting of listeners’ heads in consideration. A constant consideration results in an assortment of mixed peanuts-there’s too much going on here. Vocals are sustained on quivering exhales, drums crash incognito and guitars warmly spark and fuzz, making for a densely difficult byproduct.

Bound Stems’ hometown paper, The Chicago Reader, is right to give the band members praise as “smart and ambitious.” They are. But when this smartness and ambition is run through the gamut of condensed nausea, as it is on Appreciation Night, it sounds dumb and anxious.