Saturday, March 1, 2014

GUNK "Gradual Shove" (Ranch Records)


Comprised of Philadelphia scene veterans Josh Mackie (Your Children is Beautiful, Idiot Forever), Dan Angel (Sex Dungeon Studios, Ugh God) and Nate Dionne, Gunk gels together at the molecular level, offering a freshman LP worth hundreds of work hours and the air of a years old collaboration.  It seems as though the post-Joe Sly DIY era finds its rock epicenter in Philly with Gunk churning out some of its most relevant cuts in their initial statement.  Picking up where bands like Fat History Month and Arvid Noe left off (and New England Patriots and Pile continue to reside) Gunk takes a standard basement trio and great songwriting to a not oft trod level.

"Gradual Shove" sounds like a band's band on tape in 2014 should, recalling a pre-aught decade and excavating the best parts of the unsung bands from them, in this case perhaps Heatmiser and Rob Crow, as well as a bit of Spoon with the piano doubling on opener "Photograph".  The arrangements are spooky and expressive, bass overdriven and above the mix.  

"Ice Cream" is the definitive cut on the album.  Smart and hook laden, musing on simple benefits of hydrant breaking and ice cream eating in the east coast summer, giving way to a complexity of arrangement that pushes it over the edge.  A wobbly counter melody, sneaky flutes and "self help" tape static segue a traditional rock statement into concrete smatter and the closing cadence of a stately symphony.  The album takes no time to slow as the listener is immediately pummeled by "Kill Em All" by the time the next quarter note hits.  Keep listening because these off kilter melodies ripen with age. 

The raison d'être of Gunk may be summed up in the first three tracks but they are a sweet combo.  Stick around for the rest!


- -Matt Robidoux

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