Parts & Labor-

Steven Butler

Parts & Labor have reinvented themselves with Stay Afraid, their second full-length album and their first featuring vocals.It is interesting to hear a noise-rock band create an album centered around vocal melodies and hooks; each of the ten tracks is indeed a song in the traditional sense.Make no mistake, though: this album is positively bathed in searing, crushing and totally uncompressed noise.The opening track “A Great Divide” starts with a 20 second eruption of pounding drums, distorted bass and unidentifiable electronic bursts at maximum volume before collapsing into a Celtic guitar drone and arguably the best vocal melody on the album.A few tracks later, “Death” (the slowest song, though that does not say much) alternates between catchy verses and squalls of guitar and keyboard feedback. Keyboardist/guitarist Dan Friel and bassist B. J. Warshaw share vocal duties, both possessing a Bob Mould-like attack that keeps the vocals pretty uniform throughout.Their secret weapon, newcomer Chris Weingarten on drums, plays with a jackhammer-to-the-skull intensity that propels the record until the final track, where he tones it down a bit and lets the rest pf the band take over.Stay Afraid is undoubtedly one of the best rock albums that will come out this year.