Naomi Punk is a trio from Olympia, Washington, who make grunge music in the truest possible sense. Their relentless death rattle is dark, dank and sludgy. There is precious little light in Naomi Punk’s malevolent take on grunge rock. Their debut album is a stark introduction to a powerful band full of foreboding and intensity.
The Feeling was originally released back in April on a limited edition basis in the USA. Since its release the band have subsequently been picked up by Captured Tracks, who have reissued the album. It certainly merits wider exposure. Naomi Punk are a slightly odd sonic fit with Captured Tracks though, a label that is more used to showcasing lissom smooth aqueous guitar bands like DIIV and Wild Nothing. The Feeling is by far the heaviest record they’ve yet released.
The band’s background is steeped in American indie rock tradition. Their hometown is famed as the birthplace of K Records and its founder, Beat Happening‘s Calvin Johnson. It is a town that played a key role in grunge rock’s primitive beginnings, perhaps not so much strictly musically but certainly aesthetically. Naomi Punk share many of these principles and ideals. Theirs is a sound that compromises for no one, and they show no sign of caring how impenetrable it is. Their only desire is to make immensely powerful crashing music.
Opening track Voodoo Trust is a good indication of the bands sound. It is a stop start guitar lurch that veers from jerky thrash to rollicking climax. The vocals, as is the case throughout, are largely unintelligible. No Matter. The power is all in the discombobulating guitar attack.
There is a brusqueness to Naomi Punk’s sound that makes many of the songs sound incredibly harsh and ever so slightly menacing. There are absolutely no pretty melodic moments to be heard. The title track offers the album’s only real chorus and is perhaps anthemic in a parallel world where weirdo grunge rock ruled stadiums. Predominantly though the album is filled with ragged dirges, like the wonderfully sleazy Trashworld.
Sometimes it would be good if the band opened the sound up ever so slightly and allowed melodies to shine through. They are certainly capable. Three guitar led instrumentals point the way to some sonic experimentation, particularly on the curious static-charged waltz of CLS+Death Junket and the high pitched drone of Eon Of Love. These instrumentals suggest the band may not be entirely in thrall to heavy guitar music.
By far the best moment of a record that is often difficult, sometimes ponderous but mostly quite thrilling is Burned Body. The song is the equivalent of a sonic sledgehammer to the head, utterly pummelling you into submission with unrelenting regularity. You can just about make out a drawled lyric of “It’s such a drag”.
2012 has seen something of a mini revival of US bands paying heed to the heavier side of indie rock. Both Metz and The Men have released albums full of visceral and direct grunge influenced rock. Whereas these bands deal in speed and a white hot careering charge to the finish, Naomi Punk are a more calculating and grinding beast. Their sound is far more foreboding but just as heavy. The Feeling is an intriguing introduction to the dingy world of Naomi Punk.