Artist: Ten Kens Album: Ten Kens Release Date: 15/09/08 Label: Fat Cat Link: Originality is not an easy thing to come by in terms of music these days. Or in life in fact. When was the last time you had an original thought? That’s right, you haven’t. Mixing all the Kellogg’s Variety pack cereals together to make a super-cereal? It’s been done. So when a band rides along and attempt to deliver something unique to the letter box of the world, one sits up, albeit sceptically. Ten Kens hail from Toronto, and Canada it goes without saying producing some of the more outstanding and innovative artists of recent indie years, and after a few listens of Ten Kens eponymous debut album it is evident that they fit right in. To describe the sound is a difficult task, for a couple of reasons. One being that the style of songs are quite varied and different to each other. The second being that there is not a lot out there like Ten Ken’s sound, so tough to slip into the lazy journalistic way of saying they sound like band X (Though No Age I could attempt to crow-bar in). Of influence is early 90’s grunge, artists such as Sonic Youth and Pixies seeping through the crunching guitars at heavier points in songs. One theme consistent with the record is that of reverb and often ‘wall of noise’ effect, giving a brooding, at times epic feel. The opener ‘Bearfight’ is indicative of the mood-changes of the album in a microcosm; it starts a slow build up before jumping into a heavy guitar riff, then into long melodic wailing and back into said heavy guitar riff with heavily distorted lyrics. Downcome Home takes a left field turn down country way, with upbeat twanging guitars and feeling bluesy. Spanish Fly makes a U-turn halfway through also, coaxing the listener into a flamenco experience, before unleashing pounding guitars. The lyrics verge from the shouty and catchy ‘Hey Oh No!’s of Spanish Fly and ‘Wooah’s of Bearfight, to nearly iincomprehensible heavily reverbed lyrics quite a lot of the time, somewhat skin to that of Animal Collective’s vocal style. At times this does frustrate and tire, not an album you can sing-a-long to exactly, but again this would not be the goal of Ten Kens. A special mention should go to Prodigal Sum, a gem of a song, providing a glimpse into the beauty and gentleness that Ten Kens are capable of. So already established and ram-downed your throat is the unique sound of Ten Kens. But going back to the Variety pack super-cereal metaphor, the cereals are all… well… of course all cereals, and similar cereals at that; in that the style of music is different throughout the album and indeed individual songs, but the overall production and ‘sound’ is remarkably similar on all songs. This is not to take too much away from the album, it remains a very good listen, and rewards immensely with repeated listening.