(Self-released, CD, cassette, digital)
Writing for British online music mag the Quietus, author Alex Ogg concluded that the term post-punk was a "hopelessly inadequate umbrella term." He was reacting to author Simon Reynolds' assessment of the genre in his 2005 tome Rip It Up and Start Again, a sort of post-punk Bible.
Ogg is probably correct. Post-punk music can sound like new wave, industrial, or any other countless micro-genres that popped up in the late '70s and '80s. Practically the only thing consistent across post-punk's biodiversity is an energy, or perhaps an unspoken stylistic ethos to deconstruct pop conventions and smash them back together with experimental flair. Or something. It's art, not an exact science.
Burlington's Roost are a prime local example of the post-punk doctrine. On Self-Titled, the trio of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Zack Schuster, bassist Mike Harris and drummer Everett Renderer present six bristling tracks of oddball funk-punk bangers.
The songs on the Eric Maier-produced Self-Titled land somewhere between the abrasive ecstasy of the Normal's herky-jerky "Warm Leatherette" and Nitzer Ebb's demonic dance-floor sashay "Control I'm Here." Think ice-cold synths and four-on-the-floor beats tempered with rich, golden guitar and bass riffs.
Schuster mostly opts for his own brand of sprechstimme — that is, a vocal style that's more spoken than sung. His delivery, combined with frequently prickly instrumentation, is reminiscent of the Nails' "88 Lines About 44 Women." But Schuster has far more attitude than Marc Campbell did. It's as if he's found the perfect drug cocktail to be loose and sassy but also totally deliberate: half an Ativan, a strong old fashioned and a few puffs of White Widow, perhaps.
Schuster rattles off stream-of-consciousness lyrics that often seem like they're coming to him in the moment. Rambling non sequiturs glide over surging synths and clacks of cowbell on "Lazy Tongue."
"Honey" is an erotic fantasy set in a gas station ("Gas station lady / why you always trying to call me baby ... I could stick my fingers right in your mouth ... I know what I'm doing"). Its airy, quickened pace drops off for a leisurely, slacker-rock detour before returning to brittle dance-punk.
Mid-tempo "Butch Cassidy" closes the record with disco-goth vigor. "You told me three secrets / Well, they were all lies / Take those lemons that you squeeze / Place them right in your eyes," Schuster moans. Suddenly, an otherworldly scream sends the song into a perpetual groove before sliding into a double-time, psychedelic freak-out.
Roost establish themselves as a substantial creative force on Self-Titled. The sharp contrast between Schuster's rounded baritone, with its unwavering phlegmatic quality, and the EP's undulating instrumentation make for a delightfully volatile combination.
Listen to Self-Titled at roost.bandcamp.com.