Twistur Is Making Unconstrained Alternative Rock

On “Blend Into New,” the band pays homage to Pacific Northwest musical history.

Twistur (Ezra Chong)

7/8/9. Twistur

Sounds Like: Kurt Cobain singing in the middle of a hurricane

Given the righteous wall of guitar noise on Twistur’s debut album, Blend Into New, it might be surprising that singer-guitarist Santino Olguin-Vazquez didn’t listen to much rock music until recently, preferring electronic and experimental artists like Dean Blunt and Delroy Edwards.

“I was into these weird artists that no one knew,” Olguin-Vazquez says. “So when it came time to work in more of an alternative rock sphere, I didn’t really have any constraints.”

Twistur doesn’t really sound like experimental music, but there’s a sense of expansiveness to their sound that crashes far beyond the constraints of alternative rock. Olguin-Vazquez’s howl is clearly the progeny of Kurt Cobain’s, yet the wall of sound behind him, aided by bassist Carson Nitta and drummer Gabe Rosenfield, feels almost elemental: less like “grunge” than like waves buffeting a jagged coastline.

“I think, at least me and Gabe, we were really enamored that there was an established aesthetic and presence of music in our region,” Olguin-Vazquez says. “I think we really wanted to pay homage to the previous musical history that was here.”

Olguin-Vazquez and Rosenfield previously played together in another alt-rock band called Dial Carlos. Quarantined together during COVID, the two played music and exchanged influences, sowing the seeds of a new and more ambitious project.

“Eventually it formulated into playing live music again,” Rosenfield says, and Twistur joined a scene of young Portland bands—Rhododendron, Guitar, Growing Pains—which are unmistakably rock ‘n’ roll but that take influence from the vast and eclectic quantity of music available at the touch of a phone screen.

“The people that we are friends with in the community are very open to listening to really any genre,” Rosenfield says. “I think openness to listening to other music is a good attitude to have while creating.”

See the rest of 2024′s Best New Bands here!

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