Thursday, February 23, 2012

Angwish celebrates cd release Saturday

Charlotte rock trio Angwish celebrates the release of its new album "Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" Saturday, February 25, at The Milestone. The cd release party marks the band's final show with longtime bassist/backing vocalist Rachael Malmberg Harper and its final headlining show before founder Bryan Bielanski and his cousin/new drummer Mike Smith set off on a nomadic national six month tour.

"Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" was recorded live in the studio in one take to help capture the heavier aspect that comes through in the band's live shows. Over the course of its last few albums Angwish has reminded me of everything from the Pixies (thanks to the great vocal interplay) to Cake to NOFX. It never sounded like any one influence in particular, but a mesh of two decades of alternative rock. "Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" is its most singular record. From the start it recalls the messy, driving punk of the Sex Pistols and the sludgy, angst-ridden grunge of early Nirvana (Angwish will also appear at The Milestone's March 3 Nirvana tribute show).

Although Nirvana had a huge impact on popular music in the `90s and helped usher in the mainstreaming of punk, aside from the bands that immediately came after it, I don't hear its influence that often. Angwish has long paid subtle tribute to the grungefathers, but this new album recalls "Bleach" era Nirvana and early singles like "Sliver" (which appeared on its "Incesticide" b-sides and rarities disc).There are shades of grungy stoner rock amid the thick riffs, which are the heaviest thing I remember hearing Angwish do. But even at its heaviest there are hooks and melodies anchoring the songs.

Malmberg's counterpoint was always one of my favorite parts of Angwish's songs because her quiet, understated vocals reminded me of Kim Deal. She didn't do as much of that this time because she knew she'd be leaving the band to focus on her photography business (www.chickswithcameras), but her mark is there on "Medicated Mommy." That track, which finds Bielanski talk-singing like a punk bluesman during the verses, combines a playful Weezer-like intro with Nirvanaesque dynamics, fuzzy bass, and a group chorus. The political "Super Power" is another fun standout with isolated drums and vocals alternating with an exploding guitar hook.

Saturday's concert starts at 8 p.m. and features 25 Minutes to Go, Dirt Worshipper, and Sister Fister. Tickets are $6 to $9.

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