Monday, July 30, 2007

Towers - "Mutagen"

Does this genre have a name? I've definitely heard bands of this ilk before, mostly in basements across America. There's clearly a distinct sound here, and I've been hearing it for years, but I've yet to come across a name for it.

I often read interviews with bands who complain about being pigeonholed into a particular genre, especially when that genre is new (did any band want to be called "stoner-rock" back in the late-90s?). What these bands fail to understand is that (a) they are not unique, and (b) genre names are simply writer shorthand that help readers understand what they sound like. Yes, there are other bands that sound like you, someone's come up with a name for it, and if someone who likes those bands reads your name in connection with this nebulous genre they might think to check out your music. Go with it.

But this stuff doesn't seem to have a name. If someone asked me to describe Towers, I'd start by saying they're a hardcore band. But they're really an example of this in-between genre. They have hardcore rhythms, structures, instrumentation and volume, but with spacey guitar effects and scream-o (a micro-genre unto itself, doncha know) vocals. And I'm telling you, there are other bands like this endangering the eardrums of kids in basements and VFW halls all across America. So what do we call them?

Full disclosure: I know these guys; my friend B— is one of the guitarists and he gave me a copy of the album, which appears to be self-titled. But I'm not posting this as a favour to him, I'm posting it because it's awesome. In fact, if he had his druthers I'm sure he would have preferred I post a different track (perhaps one of these), but I like the guitar effects in the intro to this one, and it's my fucking blog, so there.

The record, by the way, is way cool. The cover is silk-screened onto the sleeve to an old Smokey Robinson album that they cut open and turned inside out, which, due respect to Smokey, is a killer way to package a record. It's not perfect, mind you; it's on white vinyl. I'm morally opposed to coloured vinyl, as anything other than black is a compromise in sound quality, but I'm still mad jealous. I've never had any of my music on vinyl.

No buying story here as B— gave me the record, but I do have a marginally interesting story about acquiring it. After he gave it to me I was riding my bike home and took a really bad spill. Totally my fault and completely stupid, I was drunk, not wearing a helmet, carrying the record and smoking a cigarette with he same hand, ran into a parked pickup truck. I got away with minor abrasions on both arms and a few ice packs the next day, but I had to replace the front wheel of my bike, which was bent beyond repair (used wheel, $30! Bless you, Mike's Bikes). But more importantly, the record was unharmed. And let's face it, that's what really matters.

Buy it... on vinyl. Vinyl only, as far as I can find. Fuck yeah.

From my deck to you: Towers - "Mutagen"

Not sure what to group with this, but I know B—'s a man who knows and loves the old school (check out his radio show Sunday nights), so I'll fill out the week with a couple slabs of classic SST heaviness.

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