By Jason Duarte
Release date: 8/13/2013
12'' / digital download: Kiss of Death Records
Imagine if you will, drummer Mike Yannich (The Ergs!, etc.) and guitarist/vocalist Mike Santostefano (Static Radio NJ) standing on their home turf of New Jersey, on the shore, facing northeast behind their instruments. Across the pond, bassist Jamie Morrison (The Arteries) stands on his home turf of Wales, facing southwest. They start playing at exactly the same time. You're floating out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when suddenly, two separate channels of sound waves smack into either side of your head at 340.29 meters per second. You forget about the sun burning your skin as a smile creeps across your face.
That's the recipe. No stuffiness. No filler. Just three guys make this transatlantic trio a bare-bones wall of sound with a pop foundation. Thus, the album is catchier than stereotypical grunge. The songs are also shorter, which shines a light on the punk influence that the band members embody.
Musicians in every respective generation find a way to pay homage to the music that's shaped them, but may have also been just out of reach. For example, I was eight years old in 1994 when Kurt Cobain killed himself, have no memory of the event, yet I grew up listening to Nirvana and their music molded my taste and playing style quite a bit. Thanks to alternative radio in the '90s carrying the torch of grunge, the seed was planted in me, well before I knew it would blossom into a love for the genre. I can't help but think the same torch of escaped nostalgia burns in others.
Yannich embraces a Dave Grohl-esque style of playing, which drives the Nirvana likeness home. But Pale Angels is not a Nirvana clone or a simple homage-to-grunge band, despite how much they channel their influential predecessors. The distorted, fast, fuzzy grunge/punk flows though Primal Play at a steady pace, only slowing down on the appropriately-titled track, "Slow Jangle." The album builds up, peaks and fades out on the last of nine songs, "Bed Bugs," which lasts an enjoyable 14 minutes before its feedback-riddled finish.
If you find yourself dissatisfied with all the music you have and/or frequently look for a breath of something fresh, I recommend this. If you're a fan of any of the aforementioned bands, I recommend this. If you have ears, I recommend this.