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how the cold war began
Sorry About Dresden
How the Cold War Began
Moment Before Impact

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The title and design style might lead you to believe that this six song EP from Chapel Hill four-piece Sorry About Dresden is some kind of Eastern-bloc pinko concept album. Donít let the signage fool you! SAD is a strange blend of moody introspection and deliberate spaz. Songs like "Temporary Felts" and "The Store You Deserve" are quiet and spooky, reminiscent of a heavier Palace Brothers or Slint (perhaps itís a Southern thing?). Thereís even a touch of math-rockiness in "The Cults of the Famous and the Dead"; the guitars start to churn like a swarm of angry bees, building into a controlled tempest of dissonance which ultimately plateaus into treacle. And yet it works.

Then the band rips into "The Mayor Will Abdicate", which is one of the catchiest latter-day-post-punk-pop tunes Iíve heard in a long, long while. Phew. What do I mean by that? Think Gang of Four on crystal meth after hearing the new Dropkick Murphys CD. The rhythm section is definitely at their best on this track.

The transition from "The Mayor Will Abdicate" to "Failure of Wollett", the EP's last track, comes off more as an awkward jerk from one personality to another than a journey from one sonic landscape to the next, although the song itself has really grown on me with repeated listening. My only other complaint is that the vocals occasionally sound awkward or forced -- almost too earnest and untrained -- in the context of the controlled chaos of the music that backs them. None of this must bother me too much, considering Iíve found myself putting How the Cold War Began back in the CD player about six times today. As a fellow Southerner (well, does Maryland count?), Iím really glad that North Carolina has something better to offer us than Jesse Helms and big tobacco.

-- Alex Zorn
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