Antietam Until Now/Rain

Antietam
Until Now/Rain

(1986)
Homestead Records
7’ vinyl
4.5/5

Capturing a band’s sound and personality and representing both well on a seven-inch piece of plastic is often hard and not done all too frequently (especially on the debut single). However, Antietam’s Until Now is a fair Polaroid of where the group was and sounded like at the time.
The A-side is catchy with a quick tempo; a driving beat that’s often decorated with some excellent distorted guitar solos. The brilliant blazing guitar work at times sound like the guitar parts of a Bardo Pond track, but sped up. The background is filled with moments of garage like fuzz, and scratchy acoustic strumming that brings to mind a race through a leafless tangle of brambles and thickets. Every now and then the band launches into something like a demented-surfer rock type style after occasional sudden changes in tempo and beat. Then around two minutes into the song, Antietam gracefully halts into an acapella break with some impressive sneaky bass noodling in the background. The vocals on this part take on a hauntingly beautiful harmony that is like eavesdropping on some religious ceremony deep in a cave somewhere in the south. Elsewhere in the song, Tara Key’s confidant, gliding and coaxing vocals add a thick sheen over the recording, which is a fine contrast to the kind of low, jabbing, and forceful male vocals. Still going at full speed, the track ends in true Antietam fashion, by slamming on the breaks as the lyrics state the title of the track.
The B-Side is an exciting cover of a not only an underrated psychedelic rock track, but a criminally overlooked Beatles song as well. Antietam blasts into the track at top velocity with some truly fantastic, hypnotic drumming and alluringly fried guitar. Tara takes lead with a passionate strength that at times beckons like a demanding cry while the background male vocals all hover in a far higher register, complimenting Tara’s voice quite nicely. The beat remains fairly consistent and easy to head-bang to. The production of the track is lush with various subtle, multilayered details that seem to stand out differently during each listen, making each spin on your turntable an unique experience. The ending of the track is a tight, enjoyable early-Pink Floyd meets The Golden Dawn type jam that sounds like it can go on for an hour or more and still remain pleasurably rocking, although it ends quickly enough on a few buzzing electric strums.
On the whole, this single successfully brings the listener a fair introduction to the Antietam of 1986. The A-side is full of ever-swapping, interestingly sung, well-penned lyrics, quickly changing tempos and catchy rhythms that defy comparison. Then the B-side is one of the most exceptional Beatles covers possibly ever recorded. The band transforms the number to be completely their own. It stands on its own as a genuine translation, as it takes a whole new, Antietam sort of identity while the bare elements of the original track still remains. With both performances on one disc, this is definitely a 45 not worth skipping.

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