Up to the highest height

You’ll never be as angry as The Kite-Eating Tree.

Greg Corradini

The Kite-Eating Tree has a big chip on its shoulder.

The band’s Web site manifesto bares its teeth at “corporate approved pop culture trash,” while reminding its fans “the only thing (the music industry) holds in esteem (is) the contents of your wallet.”

The boys from Los Angeles decided to market their corporate dissent with the release of their debut album “method: fail, repeat Ö”

Put out on Suburban Home Records and the band’s own Cowboy Versus Sailor imprint, the album is a musically strong example of their rebellion.

The songs on “method: fail, repeat Ö” are pressurized emotional moments of distorted contempt. The band attacks corporate lackeys. The democratic individualism we were all promised is on the ground busted up and bleeding.

In “Softer Seems the Pavement,” the first song on the album, Michael Hunter sings the chorus “trade sky sell buy this won’t hurt a bit it’s only every day of your life.” The rhythm section, holding back in the chorus, breaks free of its restraint into a train-wreck vamp.

At their best, in songs like “Through the Width of a Straw” and “Hollywood Hates You,” The Kite-Eating Tree harnesses an atomic energy and then pins it down with sharp lyrics. “Retrograde” starts out mildly enough, before the chorus explodes into an unexpected, double-timed punk riff. Hunter uses it as a launching pad for his angular chorus, “paint your face, when you put me in my place, thanks for the right to breathe and vaguely scream.’ “

Obviously, there is a lot of anger here.

For a listener, however, this is not a bad position. The Kite-Eating Tree pits the listener between their changes, pushing and shoving them into tight corners of rhythmic space. Most of the songs on “method: fail, repeat Ö” also have plenty happening harmonically. Guitar tracks are stacked thick, the vocal arrangements volley back and forth in play.

Yet, all the songs seem over produced and too polished for a band against the “system.” One might expect indie rebellion to sound either dirtier, grainier or both. The Kite-Eating Tree is neither producing anything new nor anything dull in “method: fail, repeat …” Still, a few more atonal moments of deafening noise and edgier time changes would improve the sound. There can only be so much backbeat before the listener succumbs to aural complacency.

For a debut album, “method: fail, repeat Ö” does its job and then some. Fans can only look to The Kite-Eating Tree’s future for the mature music and provoking lyrics to come. But you wonder how far they are willing to take their ideologies. Isn’t it every band’s dream to make a living off their music?

It must be hard being The Kite-Eating Tree in Los Angeles. You slam the capitalist system for its “gutless, watered-down tripe” but then you have to muster enough self-assurance to tell the potential listeners on your Web site “Hollywood hates you, but The Kite-Eating Tree does not.”