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Wednesday, November 16, 2011
When I look back at the decade of the nineties, I always think about how inspiring and interesting music became in '91 and '92. The likes of The Melvins, Sound Garden, Helmet, Rollins Band, Tool and Primus were able to put out really creative, rowdy, fun records on major labels, and actually get radio airplay. Frankly, I think that was the last peak of true creative independence where musical artists could operate successfully at the national level. On another sad note, the tide rolled back nearly as quickly as it came in; about the time radio caught on, and the “alternative” station format came into being - I'd say by the mid-nineties - all the raw energy, personality attitude and edginess was stripped out of music. How many Eddie Vedder imitators do you remember? It was all half ass mush; there was nothing musically interesting in the material, the vocals were always slightly off-key and generally felt uninspired, Bush? Foo Fighters?? Really? Ugh.....
So how does this relate to the record I'm going to review? Let’s turn back the clock and take Foo Fighters as a basic example. Let's teach them all how to really play their instruments, light a fire under their drummer's ass, force their bassist to learn everything Mike Watt ever recorded and force a six pack of Rainier beer down Dave Grohl's gullet each night before they play. You might have a basic idea of what the band Redbush's latest EP “Wonder Nugget” sounds like.
This is just a fun American rock record. There are solid nods to classic rockers, such as the MC5, the Who, and Thin Lizzy. I also hear some tasteful nods to the SoCal punk scene of the early nineties in the chord voicing Wonder Nugget’s used. There are straight forward melodic leads that break up verses nicely. Overall, it is upbeat, enthusiastic and catchy without being obnoxious.
I've been sitting here looking at the computer screen for the last half hour trying to think up a good comparison or description of the vocal style of JD Korpitz, and I just can't come up with much beyond this: the man has a very solid tuneful baritone/tenor vocal range and a good sense of melody. He definitely does his own thing that you just have to hear, which scores points in my book.
In classic rock form, the guitar riffs solidly back the vocals. There are a few dark, metal inspired turnarounds and transitions between vocal phrases and verses to keep the guitar playing from becoming generic. There is some pretty technical playing that pops up here and there on the record, but it is all very subtle. There are no over-the-top guitar hero moments. Ian Mckillip ties everything together with inspired, well thought out bass lines that add a lot of dynamics and groove to each song on this record. The songs are solidly driven by the upbeat punk inspired drumming of Ev Bruhnke.
I will say again, overall this is a fun well written garage/power pop EP that is comparable to albums put out by Husker Du, early Replacements, QOTSA, and/or a musically advanced Against Me!. If you ever get a chance to see these guys live just do it! I think their material comes across even better live and loud. Maybe if bands would have had this kind of drive and energy back in '95 we wouldn't have all the mediocre '60s/'70s revival schlock that passes for rock on the radio these days.