I love micro-scenes. If you’re unaware of the term, it is used to describe those little cliques you can find in the music community, cliques that aren’t big enough to be described as scenes in their own right. They’re often arranged around a person, a band, a family or a sound. A few examples include the New England post-rock scene (a group of bands which share art style, label, geographical location and sound that we’ve been covering extensively) or the UK math-rock scene (Alpha Male Tea Party, The Physics House Band, VASA, and so on). To this list of examples, we can add a group of bands based out of Washington state, specifically Seattle and Tacoma.
This micro-scene (including bands like Helms Alee, Harkonen, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive To Death and, most famously, Botch) runs the gamut of noise-y, thick, riff-centric rock, hardcore and metal. It lately rose to prominence when Helms Alee’s latest release, Stillicide, turned quite a few heads in the music journalism community. This micro-scene, beyond geography and musical style, also shares a family name: Verellen. Dave Verellen was the vocalist for Botch; Ben Verellen formed Harkonen, plays in Helm’s Alee and is also behind the track we’re premiering today, by Constant Lovers. Yes, I’ve finally gotten to the point.
Why did I spend so many words introducing this so called “Washington micro-scene”? It’s because Constant Lovers, a new project containing not only Verellen but multiple members from the above cited projects, seems to be setting up to be the Other to this scene. Every scene, every group in fact, needs a weirdo, someone who walks the edges of that community, and Constant Lovers are that weirdo. They channel the hardcore and rock influences that the scene rolls in (check out the drums on “You Are Dinner” and you’ll feel all those rock n’ roll on the verge of hardcore vibes) and skews it just so, just a bit weirder. The full album, Pangs, has saxophone, improvisation and an overall structure that’s best described as “drunken swerving”, taking the sound that this scene is famous for and throwing it a curve ball.
And that’s what we get with the track we’re premiering today, “You Are Dinner”. I think the moment which most exemplifies this is what happens to the vocals near the end of the track; around the two minute mark, the instruments (beyond a few strummed guitar chords, heavy and flippant) go silent and the vocals receive center stage. And they use that stage to let go, to unwind, to set free some sort of burning inside. In Mike Patton-esque fashion, the vocals reach deep into their stomach and draw forth the same kind of nervous energy that the rest of the track seems to be infected with, rising to just below the point of screams. The entire track is about this kind of energy, a barely contained explosion of rock n’ roll riffs and potential. The band say as much about the track: “‘You Are Dinner’ is about feeling like a fish on a line. It’s a longing for freedom when you feel hooked and dragged by an unseen force.” That’s exactly what the track feels like, a shaking off bonds that lies at the base of why rock n’ roll is so good.
The rest of the album has a lot more of this freedom and unstoppable energy. Intrigued? You should be. Spin the new track above and head on over to the band’s Bandcamp to pre-order the album.