(Kill Rock Stars)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s a refreshingly twisted poetry in having a group fronted by indie and major label luminaries Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) record their debut collaboration for the Kill Rock Stars label. But it surely fits the raw, rugged and rather non-commercial music they create on this first official album length release.
Rounding out this duo are other notables from the indie rock trenches such as bassist Scott McCaughey (Minus 5), bass player Kurt Bloch (Seattle’s legendary The Fastbacks), and drummer Bill Rieflin, currently in King Crimson (replaced for roadwork by Linda Pitmon from Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3).The appropriately named Filthy Friends have indeed been friends (not sure about the filthy part), playing with each other around the Seattle scene since 2012, but are first now laying their music down for the world.
It’s a rocking affair and although they tried to avoid this sounding like Sleater-Kinney fronts R.E.M., there can’t help but be references to both. Leadoff single “The Arrival” has elements of Patti Smith Group and the Stooges as Tucker tells of meeting what seems to be a life partner for the first time (“It’s a perfect start to another day”).
Elsewhere glam elements invigorate the T. Rex groove of “Come Back Shelley,” (an early B-side, not included here, tackled Roxy Music’s “Editions of You”) and the driving hard rock/power pop with Go-Go’s backing vocals to “Makers,” seemingly an invitation for music lovers to check out this new band (“Rise people, rise on music freaks … ride into our cool new scene”), shows the band’s milder core. On “Windmill,” there are musical references to Televison’s tautly wired punk with the added sweetener of a singalong chorus. And, despite the band’s protestations, it’s tough not to acknowledge the R.E.M. jangle under “Any Kind of Crowd,” a song that could have been included in Murmur.
Songs are credited to Buck and Tucker; the former generally responsible for the music with Tucker handling most of the lyrics which, at least in the case of the opening thumping/pumping rock chords of “Despierta,” dive into politics, but in an oblique way. When she sings “Holding onto the past won’t make it repeat … you and all your friends feasted while we fought to make ends meet …” it’s obvious she’s referring to the current administration.
Surely fans of both R.E.M. and Sleater-Kinney will flock to this, but Filthy Friends invites you to their party that pounds out a rugged, lived-in and honest rocking sound, delivered by a bunch of rock and roll lifers with nothing to prove who are clearly in this for the camaraderie and the music.
Accept the “invitation.”