Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Powder Room- Curtains

I'm late on this. I know that.  But, one of the beautiful things about this, our modern world, is that things occur outside of time. A digital release on bandcamp is just as fresh today, as it was when released 4 months ago. Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
 I stumbled across this by doing what I always do- I spend about  90 minutes a week browsing bandcamp by tags- usual ones are " Grunge" "Noise Rock" "Post Punk"  and "Sludge". These guys, The Powder Room ( sounds like it should be a recording studio, amirite?) finally showed up in my browsing, and I almost passed them by, because track one "Disappointment" sounds like Alice in Chains, and while I'm a fan of several of the individuals in AiC, that's not my cup of fur. In fact, I may have passed them by, forgotten it, and came back, I don't know. I'm glad I did, because once you get past the first track, things get much more interesting. They're more like a somewhat mathy Mudhoney, or a noise rock Skin Yard. Which makes me chuckle, because I'm old, and I remember that, originally, what came to be known as Grunge was a Seattle response to midwestern noise rock. It continued to be a collaboration of sorts- heck,  Hazelmyer was a member of the U Men, but still, you start with Ruthless records, you got to Touch and Go, Homestead, and then, you start seeing C/Z Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile. So, a noise band with grunge tendencies completes the circle, in a way.
I guess I should define terms, but I think you'd prefer to get into something a bit more concrete.
The music references bands that get called noise- specifically, there's some Shellac, some Jesus Lizard, some Slint and some Drive Like Jehu in the structure of the songs. But there's some Led Zeppelin, some Soundgarden, and some Nirvana in the hooks. A couple of things even remind me of early prog, like King Crimson. Yes, I realize that what I just described could also describe At The Drive In- this is more noisy than they ever got- judging from the guitar tones, I'm thinking more Telecaster ( probably with rails- there's too much distortion without icepick squeal for a standard tele bridge)  into strange tube amp ( there's a section near the beginning of "A Literal Prodigy" that sounds distinctly like an old Ampeg combo amp- Maybe a Sovtek, I'm not sure, but I can definitely hear both 12AX7 and 6L6 tubes- does that sound too music geek for you? Here's the thing- I hear BIG TIME music geek all over this. Somebody in the band has experience in the business as a non-performer. Sound guy, manager, something. I'm suspecting this is a band who has a member or two on the Electrical Audio boards- I can hear multiple mics on the drums, and very, very little compression on them. That's a Weston trick, kids.)
What I getting at is that this is more "trad" sounding than a lot of the Math rock, but definitely more "noise/math" than most of the bands I've heard from Georgia. I'm sure there are others, but the only band like this, from Georgia, that I've heard is Atlanta's Bodyfather. So, I nearly skipped it. That would've been a tragedy for me, because I would've missed "Dead Pet" - which answers the musical question- what would it sound like if Tito Larriva from the Plugz was genetically modified to fuse with both Steve Albini and Thor Eisentrager- and the answer is AWESOME!
The bass is trebley and bright, and stays entirely in the pocket- again, Bob Weston. That's huge! It's between him, Youth, Mike Watt, and Lemmy for best bass player, ever.So, this guy is superb!
Finally, it's produced by Kyle Spence. That's a shock, to me- Harvey Milk's cool and all, but he's usually associated with more "blues based" type stuff, like Valient Thorr, Dinosaur Jr and Tim Brantley - but then, everything about this is a bit "sideways" for me- just shows that despite thirty years in, I still am just a music fan, and not as open minded as I should be.
So, my bottom line- if you're into Noise Rock, Math Rock, or Grunge, you might like it. If you're into a hybrid of all the above, you're going love it. I count myself as loving it. I think I've listened to this about 20 times in the past few days. So, yeah, I'm glad to have been wrong.....

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