Swan Island: The Centre Will Hold

Double guitar'd girl punk from the Pacific NW... Sleater-Kinney is gone, but the Auteurs/Delta 5/Lora Logic lineage continues.

Swan Island

The Centre Will Hold

Label: 16 Records
US Release Date: 2006-10-26
UK Release Date: Available as import

A barrage of bracing estrogen-powered post-punk continues the lineage of Delta 5, the Au Pairs, and Lora Logic. Swan Lake shares geography, as well as social ties, with the late great Sleater-Kinney (their drummer appeared in the "Jumpers" video), but musically, they hark back a good bit earlier. Their jittery, scattery dual guitar assault leaves room for anxiety, for trembling sweetness and vulnerability, just as Delta 5's double bass structures did, while their hard-rock-leaning riffage calls to mind 1980s commercial metal like Def Leppard. The best cut is "Crumble", whose taut, metal-tinged guitar riffs crack a whip under singer Brisa Gonzalez's warbly haunt of a voice. Ultra-tight, ultra-staccato, the band crafts beat-driven riffs that are at once off-kilter and supremely danceable, all stuttery bass and clattering break-beat drums. "Junk Parade" is almost as good, a touch slower, bass and drum architecture showing under strop-sharp guitar dialogue. Gonzalez howls like a banshee (or a Banshee) in this one, but it's the slower cut, "Tracks", where her softer side shows, velvety and warm as Chrissie Hynde in ballad mode. There's a bizarre hidden track at the end of "Grey Matter", a crazy post-modernist violin-and-piano duet that hints at classical training, but don't think for a minute that Swan Island is not about fun. Just by accident, I ended up listening to Swan Island and like-mindedly female-led, post-punk (and also Portland-based) Wet Confetti the same week -- and, what do you know, Swan Island came out ahead.

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