Look, I've put a lot of thought into what my listening habits might be while in a bunker. Between scavenging for scrap metal to make my own Mad Max car and fighting off mutants trying to steal my secret stash of Mexican Cokes — don't try it, motherfuckers — I'd be spinning the best postapocalyptic tunes on my uber jukebox.
I never expected my first go at bunker life to be me in my bedroom with Spotify and lots of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Frankly, it's all been a little underwhelming.
Thus, when Ornament, the debut album from indie-rock band Keychains, arrived in my inbox, I was perhaps more eager than usual to get into it. Which really could have gone either way. Thankfully, the Burlington trio has produced an impressively energetic collection of scrappy, lean rock and roll.
"The Way" kicks off the album with a swaggering sense of abandon. Singer and guitarist Lucas Herrera-Mindell fires off riffs and chords like cables being pulled taut before bassist Tyler Kraehling and drummer Carney Hemler follow up with a Buddy Holly-on-bong-hits kind of groove.
The band takes some cues from those fog-shrouded days of rock and roll. Like Holly, Keychains keep their songs short and to the point. "Red Pistol Hand" is about 80 seconds of ferocious incoherence. "Tall Brick Wall" finds the band whipping through staccato riffs and a surf-rocky sort of stomp — and also clocks in under a minute and a half.
Few of the 13 tracks go over two minutes, in fact. The effect of the band's combined energy and Herrera-Mindell's casual-yet-cool songwriting is an album that flies by but leaves an impact.
Ornament continues a promising trend of indie rock coming out of the city's college sectors. Keychains fit nicely alongside Queen City contemporaries boys cruise and Don Rico, bands that play retro-leaning styles of music with idiosyncratic twists. For Keychains, that twist takes the form of a sort of streetwise cool that colors their songs. "Flower Store," for example, comes across like an updated British blues song for the 21st century, with Hemler's driving beat.
As the record progresses, a few of the final tracks start to bleed together. That tendency toward brevity helps obscure uniformity, but Keychains sometimes exhibit a trait common to new bands — namely, not enough variance in their songwriting. Time and experience usually take care of that, and Ornament displays more than enough promise to excite local indie-rock fans
Hopefully, we'll all be out of our bunkers soon and can see these bands live again. (And when we do, don't make fun of my beard or Cinnamon Toast Crunch gut, please.) Until then, head over to Spotify to check out a solid debut album from Keychains.