Like tangled vines of a blue passion flower enveloping a rusty chain link fence, the sound of New Paltz’s Battle Ave fuses gritty urban realism with a symphonic, ethereal dynamic on its debut long player. The band brings an eclectic array of tools to build this creation, with Samantha Niss (drums, percussion), Noah London (bass guitar), Adam Stoutenburgh (guitar, organ, keyboard, trumpet), and Jesse Alexander (vocals, guitar, keyboard), augmented with session support of violin, cello, piano, and even more guitars. This is not easy-listening, do-the-chores background music. Battle Ave demands your full attention. With the quiet/loud dynamic, facile comparisons could be made to grunge acts, but these are inadequate in describing War Paint
’s drawn-out epics, which with their multiple time changes and melodies, make each individual composition feel like several numbers in one. The group’s live shows must be a raucous interplay of these components.
“Complications with Traveling” begins as small as the crack of dawn; with skeletal piano and vocals and tom-toms gradually building, dissonant guitar soon grinds the song to a pulp, before dissolving into the mist. Alexander’s slurred vocals are an acquired taste, but there is certainly nothing saccharine about them. A plaintive, two-note guitar explodes into a fist-shaking rock riff on “Whose Hands Are These?” before pausing just long enough for Alexander to feverishly intone “And I nearly killed you / just to see if I felt it” before the angry guitars explode once more and dissolve into the fuzz of radio static. Battleave.net