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Essential New Music: Cymbals Eat Guitars’ ‘Pretty Years’


The influence of Bruce Springsteen on recent indie-leaning releases is a bit confounding. After all, his radio-ready anthems were an example of what so many punks and early alt-rockers rallied against. Yet numerous current groups have taken the Boss’ winding lyrics and big guitars and made them their own. One band whose pronounced Springsteen fixation is particularly surprising is Cymbals Eat Guitars. The Staten Island quartet, helmed by Joseph D’Agostino, has worn its noisy influences on its sleeve since its 2009 debut.

Now teaming up with über-producer John Congleton, Cymbals Eat Guitars adds a dose of E Street to their sound on Pretty Years. The most overt reference comes with “4th Of July, Philadelphia (SANDY),” which namechecks a number of other musicians from the band’s newly adopted hometown. D’Agostino spits and snarls on “Wish,” and gets dreamy on mid-album highlight “Dancing Days.” In truth, Springsteen himself might not be able to pull off the grit and glam of Pretty Years, but Cymbals Eat Guitars makes it look easy.

—Eric Schuman