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Polvo preview

| September 2, 2009 | 0 Comments

Bottom Lounge, Chicago
Saturday, September 5, 2009

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You either knew Polvo or you didn’t. There were veteran indie-rock bands who mattered not to the mainstream press or major labels — even after Nirvana (gasp!) — yet floated around the Sub Pop/Merge/Touch And Go/Matador pool, won a few thousand fans, and disappeared when it came time to deal with life. You could call it a bleak condemnation of an artist’s impact, or you could say it’s what every goddamn ’90s indie rocker misses about goddamn ’90s indie rock.

I never much cared for them, always wishing Polvo were more Heroic Doses than The Minutemen — eight-minute slices of Minutemen at a time. Their workmanlike Sonic Youth jams were the rebuttal anytime some self-righteous, hoodie-wearing fop scoffed at a mainstream band who got too jammy or played too much guitar (never mind J. Mascis, Steve Malkmus, or Doug Martsch). But now it all seems worthy of re-examination, thanks to this year’s In Prism (Merge).

Polvo may have gotten back into business (with a new drummer) to play All Tomorrows Parties in New York, but the new album smells nothing like a cash-in. Artists will tell you that, after time, instincts become more developed and less time is wasted chasing or attempting to correct bad ideas. It’s certainly the case here, owing greatly to newboy Brian Quast’s Bonham-esque thump. While skittering beats and low-percentage time changes were always at the core of Polvo’s difficult exterior, Quast is like a nailgun inserting anchors so as things can’t drift too far. Even when track lengths encroach on the seven-minute barrier it never feels like they’ve yanked on the loose sweater string for too long.

The Poison Arrows and Haymarket Riot open.

Steve Forstneger

Click here to stream In Prism.

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