[PRE-GRUNGE] Upon dropping his band’s new album by the WW office, Old Growth co-frontman John Magnifico noted disparagingly that Out of the Sand and Into the Streets was recorded quickly and under some duress. I was happy to hear that. Old Growth isn’t a band that should spend months languishing in the studio and polishing its sound; it’s a band that should barrel through a dozen tracks in a couple of days and accept the results, warts and all.
Actually, Old Growth is too tight a trio to have any real warts. Out of the Sand—an album built on sludgy, bottom-feeding riffage and lurching, cymbal-heavy breakdowns—does have a less intentional sound than the band’s last album, 2008 sophomore disc Under the Sun, but it’s clear from Dead Moon-esque opener “The Deep End” to victorious pop-punk closer “Sandy” that these guys know exactly what they want from their sound and know exactly how to get it.
That sound—perhaps most reminiscent of early Mudhoney—would be enough reason to listen even if Old Growth didn’t know how to write songs. Lucky for us, they are often fantastic: “Hey Young” is a dramatic, shifting Molotov cocktail of a song that reminds of the Refused; “The Money’s Gone” is a Replacements-style melodic punk cut with perfectly off-kilter vocal harmonies; “Movin’ Along” is Old Growth’s searing take on pirate punk, featuring a working-class narrative about displacement and a few surprising piano chords (which help replace the much-missed harmonica blasts from Under the Sun).
I don’t think there’s
any Portland band, save for Pierced Arrows, that captures the spirit
and history of its region better than Old Growth. And yet Out of the Sand remains wholly vital and of-the-moment. That’s some trick.
SEE IT: Old Growth releases Out of the Sand and Into the Streets at East End on Thursday, Sept. 22, with Company and DJ Rod Meyer. 10 pm. Free. 21+.