Artist of the day: Auto?Automatic??
Sometimes punctuation makes all the difference. Case in point: Auto!Automatic!!, A Tampa trio that formed in 2003.
They combined instrumental rock with the hard right angles of geometric patterns – playing what the dandy music critics call "math rock." The threesome brandished exclamation points in their name to remind you of their intensity and angular toughness. But they went on hiatus in January 2009.
One year, one new bassist and some new punctuation later, Auto?Automatic?? is the same trio, but with with blurrier lines and softer edges – more mystery than emphasis overall.Guitarist Brian Larsen, drummer Alex Fedele and new bassist Adam Khan reanimated the long-dormant local supergroup when they got the opportunity to open for the Mercury Program at Crowbar last month. They also performed at Vinyl Fever’s Record Store Day on April 17 (above). Some facets remain the same. They can still go from being a little repetitive to a little progressive to downright gorgeous. In the past, some spectators thought that they were boring; others thought they were geniuses. Whichever pole you gravitate toward, you’ll notice these three accomplished young men bust out some mighty technical ability and play squeaky-clean ’n’ tight.
The band formed when Larsen moved from Chicago to Florida. He met Fedele and bassist Nate Murray and they almost immediately started playing together. They made a demo in 2004 and in 2006 released their debut full-length, Another Round Won't Get Us Down, which landed on several local best-of lists that year. Titles on the CD are downright wacky and bizarre, from Samurai Showdown at the University of Tampa to A!A!! @ A/A, Eh??
So, why did Murray leave and why were they on break from January 2009 to March 2010? Larsen says they were some artistic differences at play and that they wanted to take a step back and reevaluate things. "We struggled in our songwriting, not being cohesive," he said.New bassist Khan brings more of a groove-oriented perspective; fewer of the jagged, pointed and aggressive rhythms that made Murray so popular with the boys (his flowin’ ’fro made him popular with the girls). Khan’s new hypnotic style should nonetheless be a welcome change.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photo by Nicole Kibert.