Friday, August 9, 2013

Ovlov - '90s Ramble, Part II

A few weeks ago, I rambled a bit about '90s nostalgia, and where Speedy Ortiz fits into the current revival in music and culture. I don't doubt that they're tired of getting pegged this way, but it's an unavoidable discussion that would otherwise remain an elephant. While on the topic, then, it's time to mention Newtown, Connecticut band Ovlov, who lost drummer Michael Falcone to Speedy Ortiz and remain part of their New England circle.

Last month Ovlov released am, a record that, on first listen, jumped to my list of this year's top three records (Speedy Ortiz's Major Arcana and Iceage's You're Nothing round out the trio). The comparisons are inevitable, but this is not to belittle Ovlov -- rather, the comparisons best serve to show what the band have been given and then improved upon. Their use of powerful minor chords on "The Well," blaring from Steve Harlett's guitar, echo the method of J. Mascis; the guitar solo on "Where's My Dini?" carries the same tone as Mascis' guest solo on Boston Spaceships' "Tourist UFO" (Let it Beard). The harmony between Hartlett and Sadie Dupuis on opener "Grapes" may recall the Rentals. And "Milk" and "Blue Baby" were, eighteen years ago, what I'd hoped Foo Fighters would be. They are Lou Barlow at his highest level of energy but lack his sad sack sensitivity.

Ovlov have been making records for several years, prior to the nostalgic trend to which they're being held, and they've gone through several lineup changes and been pared down to a trio of brothers. There's little originality in them, speaking broadly, but then, who has room to be entirely original at this point? am is as close as we will get to a flawless rock record in 2013.

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