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A Place To Bury Strangers: Loud And Proud

From The Velvet Underground to Sonic Youth, New York has long welcomed guitar bands that seem pathologically fixated on blowing out their amps. A Place to Bury Strangers carries on that loud-and-proud tradition, with gearhead credentials to boot: Lead singer and guitarist Oliver Ackermann owns Death by Audio, a guitar-effects company that counts The Edge and Wilco among its clients.

As if he wants to demonstrate how well his products work, Ackermann opens "In Your Heart," from APTBS' second album, by splattering metallic guitar shards and zingy pings all over the opening chords. Yet as with the Velvets, APTBS knows that melody should also be part of any noise-rock recipe. "In Your Heart" has a throbbing, restless pulse and grimly hooky chorus that tips its hat — and its effects pedals — to the likes of Joy Division and The Jesus and Mary Chain. When Ackermann hits the three-word chorus ("In your heart"), a hint of breathy romantic yearning emerges, as if he also wants to reveal the humanity behind the wall of six-string sound.

"In Your Heart" feels like a glorious throwback to the cathartic new-wave singles of decades past. With it, A Place to Bury Strangers returns rock to where it sometimes belongs: to the claustrophobic basement clubs where volume, sweat, passion and a couple of drinks make for an intoxicating world of their own.

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David Browne
David Browne is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Spin and other outlets.