Local Tracks on the Web
By David Pence
In addition to throb, holler, and acceleration, the RattleSnakes care about craft: “Floored” is both odd and well-made. Brian Cohen’s playing blends the disposable and the piquant; his up-the-neck guitar notes scuttle, gouge, and peal. Mike Cunnane’s drumming is thrilling and fun. Tara Bincarousky’s bass-playing has heart (halfway through “Floored,” it heaves and dives to great effect), and her plain, girlish voice is captivating in the context of the group’s rough, unpredictable music. As a special bonus, her vocal is doubled occasionally, and at one point she harmonizes with herself. The RattleSnakes have brilliantly calibrated the seriousness-to-frolic ratio for a rock band. Look out – they’re getting even better.
This track has a jaunty swagger, led by the twin guitars of Ron Harrity and Trey Hughes and buttressed by a tight, springy rhythm section (bassist Mandy Wheeler and drummer Sean Wilkinson). The live recording captures the group in a relaxed, confident mood. They stride through minor-key verses that recall angular, guitar-based tracks from ’60s stylists like John’s Children and the Kinks. Here all four instruments create a feeling of constriction that underpins Hughes’ distinctive, world-weary vocal style. In contrast, the chorus is straighter, stretched out, and bright with major chords and Wilkinson’s ride cymbal. Listening through headphones or well-separated speakers, you can get lost as you follow the long path of each guitar in its respective channel.
Do you smell jet fuel? Me too. Buckle up and brace yourself for G-forces — Ghosthunter is our MC5, and they’ll make you shriek and smile and maybe bang your head against some hard object. On first listen, I raised my arms and thrashed the air: Rawwwwwwk! Fuckkkkkk! The mix (by Billy Anderson) brings the guitar (by Kevin St. Onge) and drums (by Digy Biscuits) way up front, and they hurtle down the runway at exhilarating speed as Sam of Thunder’s bass pounds and pivots underneath. Jason St. Onge’s vocal – ” I feel good, I ain’t complaining! It’s good to be left behind, ohhhhh!” – is a choked, vigorous proclamation, a valiant attempt to make a human voice heard above the din on the asphalt.
“Frostbite” presents the trance of repetition and the sense of possibility that can accompany austerity. To a spare, clean vista of forceful beats, j.hjort and Eric St. Pierre bring an uncanny aura of disturbance, and ultimately it is this aura that makes the track compelling. There are hints of lyricism, too – some brief, ringing, synthetic tones that quickly cascade to the ground. As the music unfolds, the most interesting moments are inflected with the suggestion of danger, the shove, the overload in the bottom end of the music, the super-low tones that rumble and tear, agitating the nerve center at the base of the spine.
Diamond Sharp: “Don’t Fret”
This song is bright and brash on almost every level. Jason Rogers’ rhythm guitar crackles, recorded hot; his intentionally ungroomed vocals are mixed way up front. Joe Brown bashes a drum or cymbal on every one of the song’s beats, and Derek Lobley punches gaps at the ends of verse lines with a sticky organ riff in response to the vocal’s call. (Unfortunately, Jay Lobley’s bass lines are hard to find in the murky waters of the recording’s low end.) “Don’t Fret” captures the band’s ragged charm and suggests its potential ferocity. Rogers’ lyrics and vocals seem wedded utterly. The song’s smarts reside in the posture of the frontman and the overstatement of his declarations, and they are echoed in the relentless force with which he strums that frazzled guitar. You keep wanting to find out what this guy’s going to say next.
[Note: The review above was corrected on Jan. 8 to more accurately credit the musicians on this Diamond Sharp track. – Ed.]
David Pence is the host of Radio Junk Drawer, heard Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on community radio station WMPG (90.9 and 104.1 FM; wmpg.org).