Once upon a time, Flo got sick of the Machine and became a Queen of the Stone Age.
Last modified on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 23:12
Need more? Okay, Grown Up Avenger Stuff is a hard-hitting alt-rock band from Charlotte, North Carolina. Lead singer Deirdre Kroener (is it pronounced "crooner"?) has to carry the load of making this four-piece stand out, and as a woman, she's the right man for the job. Her voice is ragged when it needs to be, hitting exactly the right point between punk brattiness and classic rock ballsiness.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing particularly retro about GUAS. This is definitely modern rock, and I know that because there's a filter effect on the bass right from the beginning of the opening track. I thought that I would hate "Morning Noon and Night" when Kroener started scatting through a tasteful amount of vocal overdrive, and again when she started singing lyrics about "trading your guitar for some bullets and a horse." But I just couldn't continue being negative; the band's no-BS riffage and pounding rhythm section tastes like the Red Bull to Kroner's vodka. I was intoxicated with the grown-up grunge, and kinda ready to start thinking about headbanging in another song or two.
Hmm, do we have a pattern? The semi-rapid-fire vocal beginning to "Now" gave me second thoughts, but the semi-exotic chord change of the chorus turned into my favorite song of the bunch. It reminded me of some of my favorite Radiohead and Tool moments from the mid-90s.
Second choice for the topspot? The more mechanical neo-new-wave pulse of "Here" alternates with a doubled bass and guitar big-dumb-scale-lick thing that you'd swear you heard somewhere else, but you'll drive yourself crazy trying to think of where. Just have another RBV and let the music take you over, bro.
"Perfect" didn't quite do it for me, but maybe you'll give it a better home. She sounds very emotional and repetitive about something (I think Flo is still mad about the Machine). The band is dutifully intense when needed, desperately bouncing back from a sparse funky-reggae thing that they do for the verses, and coming to an odd and brief rubber climax.
Then we have the title track, which is kinda similar to "Perfect" but noticeably better. And longer! When Kroner is already yelling about them eating you alive by the one-minute mark, you'd never believe that they could keep it going for over six minutes. Especially with time tuh-ticking away. But hey, there's a little drum solo-and-guitar-feedback sort of thing in the middle, followed by more of that big dumb riffage that gets me every time. The sheen is off a little, which piqued my curiosity... and then it was over. Just when I found myself honestly curious to see how much further the band would or could take their heavy-modern approach.
The band's website pretty much says it all; GUAS is dedicated to "giving the listener an instant connection to the familiar, while introducing a fresh and energetic sound." You may quibble over "fresh", but GUAS doesn't sound EXACTLY like anyone else... but they're not exactly immediately distinctive, either. If you wanted to invest a nascent fandom in a band before they caught on in the mainstream, GUAS is a great choice. And if you wanted to seethe about why they haven't made it yet, they're cool for that, too. I'll be looking forward to their next steps -- just don't be offended if you have to remind me who they are again.