Click to hear: “Choppe Shoppe”
The RattleSnakes appear to be swallowing Gully. Originally a trio, they picked up bassist Greg Bazinet for their third release, 2010’s Spread for the Wide Eagle, and now ex-Gully guitarist Brian Houdlette is a Snake too. Packing 16 strings’ worth of lo-fi punk power, the beefed-up band’s new cassette (!) EP, Spine, is their most kick-ass effort to date.
Guitarist Brian Cohen keeps pulling great riffs out of his magic bag, like the chunky ones on “Choppe Shoppe” and “Slab.” Singer Tara Cohen (Brian’s wife) sounds clearer and stronger than ever on Spine, and not just because of the multi-tracked vocals the group’s increasingly using. Drummer Mike Cunnane stays just ahead of the curves these songs keep taking, throwing in rapid-fire fills every chance he gets.
The first song, “Miles High,” is everything that makes the ’Snakes great: the intro that builds into a big rock riff, the catchy chorus, the middle section where something unexpected happens. About once an album, the band slows down and flirts with prettiness. They never achieve it, but that’s what makes poppy songs like “Spine” so charming.
The RattleSnakes are in the top tier of Portland indie-rock bands, alongside the likes of their friends in Metal Feathers and Brenda (which swallowed Gully frontman Oscar Romero this year). If you still have a tape deck, you need to feed it Spine.
— Chris Busby
The RattleSnakes play a cassette release show on Fri., Dec. 9, at Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland, at 9 p.m.