Every year it seems there’s one local band that manages to bully their way into my wheelhouse, pummel me with gut punches, and convert me into a zealot in the process. It’s never pretty, but then again I always liked my music a little ugly. And loud. And mean. Last year it was rhythm assassins Bodyfather. Before that, it was noise pugilists Whores. and Hawks. But in 2014, the culprit has been the Powder Room.
The Athens trio’s debut LP, Curtains, is a bruising blend of noise rock, sludge and shoegaze that is by turns dark, brooding and menacing. The band doesn’t so much attack, as they do hunt and stalk their listeners with sinister grooves that seek to ambush you from the shadows. Even the record’s most punishing riffs feel nebulous, a festering swell of atmospheric echo and grimy distortion that hangs in the air like a black cloud of tension and unease. Vocalist and guitarist Gene Woolfolk can scream and growl like nobody’s business, but the band is at their best when he dials it back to a leering sneer or sardonic croon, adding a much-needed melodic thrust to the band’s otherwise clenched-fist assault.
Curtains was engineered, mixed and mastered by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, a man who knows a thing or a thousand about turgid rock bombast. The production sounds rich and full, but it’s fairly frills free. As it should be. After all, who needs bells or whistles when the alternative is the feverish intensity of a howling rock band?
Up until now, the record has only been available for streaming and download via the group’s Bandcamp page. But today their record label, Cohosh Records, opened up pre-orders for a vinyl release, which will ship out later this fall. I highly suggest you jump on that pronto before copies become scarce, which they most definitely will. In the meantime, check out the full album stream, as well as a newly posted interview, after the jump.
The Powder Room will perform tonight at the Basement in support of Atlanta noise kings Whores. Fellow locals Pretty Please open the show. Doors open at 9pm. $10 gets you in.