The Standard - S/T
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
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
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.
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