Monday, October 5, 2009

Dry as a Can

If you're a grunge fan or even if you're not, and you were alive in the late '80s, you've probably heard of Green River's seminal grunge album, Dry as a Bone. This album, if you haven't heard it, was a major step forward for what would become termed the "grunge" sound. Now I know so many critics hate that term, but that reality is that that's what people discern groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden as, whether they like it or not, so that's the term I use. But I digress.
I present to you, one of the best grunge, or post-grunge if you prefer, groups I have ever heard. And they are as far from Seattle as probably humanly possible. 
Out of Paris, France, I give you Dry Can, a quartet specializing in the grunge arts in a way so many have forgotten how. Comprising Antoine Abinum (vocals and guitar), Anne Lupieri (vocals and guitar), Olivier Crescence (bass), and Pascal Desmet (drums), Dry Can just floored me from the first song with how unbelievably they brought the grunge sound back to life. Seriously, Mark Arm of Mudhoney or Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains would be floored by this group. Not in so long have I heard such sick guitar, with such heavy bass and drums that was put out by a band post-2000.
From the first notes of "Wherever I Stand," off their EP Something Like That, DC just launches into it, with guitars that sound like Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, while Abinum's vocals would make Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog) and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog) punch their fists in the air with wild abandon. I think the only thing that makes this song any better is the heavy, Nirvana-like distortion of the guitar that would make Kurt Cobain proud. In fact, for those of you who are big grunge fans, the vocals towards the end remind me of another lost hero: Andy Wood. Something about this song just screams Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, and for that alone I'd recommend this EP to anyone. 
But that's not all there is. I quickly move on to "Wild," a song that seems to play with the tempo in a way only Mudhoney might, or even Melvins would. And, ironically, there is evidence of the early '90s, post-grunge, here, with the addition of a melody that makes me think of Gin Blossoms or even Third Eye Blind. But that's only for a minute, as I'm once again plunged into a dirty, distorted guitar solo that makes me sort of drool a little, because I can't believe this band isn't as big as Mudhoney or Green River.
The next track, "Leader," screams Soundgarden and Louder Than Love in a way I thought only Soundgarden could. But there's nothing poseur-ish about this song. It's not trying to be Soundgarden, it's just rocking-the-hell out. Chris Cornell, you better give these guys the respect they deserve. I think I even hear a little Superunknown in there. Brilliant. And then I hear a Sonic Youth/Pixies influence, as Anne Lupieri lays down some smooth female vocals before the song launches into a metal-meets-psychadelic guitar solo.
As the last guitar chords drain out in feedback from "Leader," I'm thrust into the last song, "Ring," with a stunning force. Settling on an easy bass-line for the verse, DC changes it up here, having Lupieri on lead vocals, experimenting with a Sonic Youth/Candlebox/L7 sound. With the sultry style of Kevin Martin (Candlebox), the melody of Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), and the ferocity of Donita Sparks (L7), Lupieri layers the distorted guitars with a set of almost toxic vocals that just ooze out of the speakers. Quite possibly one of the best EP's I've heard in years. Every song amazingly well crafted, every song an asset. Brilliant. I highly suggest listening to this EP. It will turn your blood to acid and have you begging for more.

Sounds Like: Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Mother Love Bone, L7

Key Tracks from Something Like That: "Wherever I Stand," "Wild," "Leader," "Ring"

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