When Portland garage-rock trio the Woolen Men signed with New York label Woodsist late last year, you could almost hear the city gasp. Would our beloved, punk-tinged lo-fi group—known for its fuzzy sound and self-released cassettes and 7-inches—be cleaned up beyond recognition?
The answer, according to the Woolen Men's self-titled debut LP, is a resounding "no." Recorded entirely to analog tape, the 10-track record demonstrates a group still basking in the charmingly bedraggled nature of DIY rock.
The Woolen Men have honed a sweet spot somewhere between early R.E.M. and Ty Segall. Frontman Raf Spielman sings jumpy and antagonistically at times ("Submission"), grounded and haunting at others ("Hold It Up"). The guitar work is an endless dose of frayed punk riffs, '60s-tinged experimentalism and the flickering drones of Turn on the Bright Lights-era Interpol.
Surprisingly, the record's only shortcoming is its undercooked persona. Stripped-down tracks like "Ode to an Hour" feel a touch undone. Overall, however, the trio is as self-made, unified and explosive as ever, with the hard-hitting chops to please those still mourning the demise of Sleater-Kinney.
SEE IT: The Woolen Men play Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Stay Calm and Sad Horse, on Friday, March 22. 9 pm. $5. 21+.