[10 April 2008]
New York band The XYZ Affair has a magical power: the group can turn garden variety “power pop” into super-power pop! Their music is loud and bold and brash enough to bring the roof raining down at even an arena-sized venue, and without yelling or screaming. It’s a big sound, complete with slashing guitars, yet it’s fluid enough to accommodate twinkling piano runs and spooky synthesizers, though not necessarily at the same time. Call it “emo-rock” if you like, or compare them to Queen if you want, but these tunes weren’t made for headphones. I almost broke mine listening to A Few More Published Studies. The XYZ Affair players—Alex Feder, Chris Bonner, Sam Rockwell, and Russ Maschmeyer—really know how to bring it. Problem is, not even the compressed miracle of compact disc technology can do justice to Feder’s voice. His vocals are better suited to the expanse of a live show, where it’s able to commingle with the band’s big sound, rather than being flattened by digital audio. But, no matter, The XYZ Affair’s debut proves to be a good start for the Upstate New York band.