Under Review

Winning

This is an Ad for Cigarettes (Ache Records)

Review By Arthur Krumins


Winning’s discordant, triumphant sound clicks something deep inside. Although punk applies equally to an attitude as to a music, I would hesitate to truly hurl the moniker on Winning’s CD. The jams feel too well put together and laid out. Blessedly unpredictable, each song unfolds in a frenzy of well-orchestrated rock: clangy guitars (some say angular, but “clang!” like the sound of steel beams dropped on concrete, forklifts, and rusty gates), oddly overdriven bass and the voice of defiance.

The conceptual element is the title: a cultural comment, throwaway title, embedded theme, or reference to the omnipresent marketing cigarette companies and others employ, it confounds a straightforward reading of the music’s purpose. Regardless, listening to this CD on headphones is better than smoking a half-pack a day.

The whistle makes a guest appearance and pops up in the middle of riffs and musical tropes reminiscent of the stop-start dynamics of early Blood Brothers, and the post-rock of Joan of Arc. Each note is separate, but part of a greater, chaotic math-rock whole. The instrumentation stays balanced like the prairie plains throughout, free-jazz-inspired but locked into a trio formation, hammering home the bass, the drums, the guitar. I fully hear the album’s “this is the music we want to make” statement, and just as fully appreciate it as transitory and fleeting.

Sound bites are up on their Myspace (myspace.com/winningmusic). Winning are all about graciously being anti-everything, but ironically putting their heart and soul into it all. It reminds me of the Who: “don’t try to dig what we all say.” This is the part of the review in which I tell you to go and listen for yourself.