The Standard - S/T
Barbaric Records

Ah, another record from the cradle of modern indie rock civilization. 
Actually, the band is from Portland, but the label calls Seattle home. 
A brief introduction is in order: Barbaric Records is a relatively new 
player in the Pac Northwest indie scene. Open for business with only 
three bands on the roster and a grand total of two records and one 
t-shirt on their website. The record in question is the debut release 
for The Standard. Seems like a gutsy name for a band that hasn't paid 
its dues on a label that hasn't paid its dues, in the cred-capitol of 
the world. You might expect that only some arrogant punkers or 
pretentious art rockers would have the balls to consider themselves 
"The Standard".

To the contrary, The Standard have put together a respectable debut. They do well with melody, occasionally change tempo, and benefit greatly from a nice production job. The album alternates between faster distortion driven guitar rock and quiet synthy ballads. There are no surprises lyrically - each song has the requisite amount of abstract semi-autobiographical socially responsible semi-sci fi as has become the indie tradition. However, lyrics are not the most interesting feature of these songs. As the pace and style alternates from fast to slow, vocalist Tim Putnam is somehow able to follow suit. Crunchier songs sees Putnam put out a high panicked warble a la Sleater Kinney. His ballad voice is more along the lines of a somber Eddie Vedder - Putnam's vibrato slows down and his pitch drops dramatically. The vocal shift is quite drastic and equally effective.
I don't think it is a coincidence that my unconscious mind has landed on two Pacific Northwest rock icons for comparison. The Standard have a Seattle vibe about them that is anything but tired or recycled. It is actually rather comforting and pleasant. I know a lot of people who complain about a lack of rock albums. People are tired of grunge, emo, post-rock, whatever-core and the lot. In fact, I think this is the real source of the name "Standard" - this group has stumbled upon a sound that really is quality "standard" rock without sounding forty years old. If I didn't already have a copy of this record, I'd buy one.
...rick lindquist...

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