TRACK | Woolen Men – On Cowardice

5/5 golden merles

Speaking of Portland-based tributes to storytellers, here is Woolen Men with one for the late great actor and writer Spalding Gray. There are many killer phrases exclaiming and examining within: even ten thousand hypocrites / is not an invincible army. A good sequence heaping and revising proverbs in a style befitting the man paid tribute.

The style is a deliberate weaving of bass and lead around the era, the tube amps inflecting the post-punk, active-punk and perpetual pop. In the fills and phases, there’s sensible problem solving and strong arrangements throughout, more metered and measured attention to detail from the Oregonians. It’s a careful blend of viscera and philosophizing with much empathy for the listener.

do you want to stay cool forever / or do you want to burn with love? / each choice has its punishments / each choice has its own reward.

$10 for the vinyl of Temporary Monument from Woodsist. I am so far behind, haven’t spent a minute with 2020’s Outta Reach or the other 2020 single’s club releases yet but looking forward to that period of time.

TRACK | The Woolen Men – Head On The Ground

5/5 golden merles

The Woolen Men are Portland-based Oregonians who remind us that pop + punk need not be anything kitsch, that one can take some of the redeeming qualities of either and make a tremendous, infectious thing. Venerable and vacillating, the stakes are kept high, the form is relished, and it only seems intent on inflicting a moderate amount of damage.

The sirens of the synth gild everything, disintegrating it, opening the lane elegantly for when we’re cut back to bass and drum alone. And then the pronouncement: i hit a wall / but it wasn’t hard at all. It’s a convincing consultation or induction to the rumination, unadorned but substantive; blunt but never dull, a great and graceful cudgel.

Why do these two genres, pop and punk, so often combine to such supremely reprehensible results? Possibly, it’s the noxious hypocrisy of their purported intentions: one includes the implicit ideology of rebellion and the other has a cloyingly myopic fixation on the interpersonal or at-best abstraction. Not here, however. There’s a balance struck. An assembly of influences filtered through a prism of good intentions. It all comes across as earnest, a frank and alluring synthesis.

The vinyl is $10 from Woodsist.