By commingling the aural orbs of East Coast garage rock with the experimental world of West Coast guitar noise, the Joggers have mastered the kick-back band strategy. A four-piece from Portland, Ore., the band’s first full-length, Solid Guild, is a highly drinkable cocktail of top-shelf indie flavor. With quick-time cowbell arrangements (and handclaps), dueling guitar distortions and four-part harmonizing, the Joggers could strut the mile and still dust your sweaty ass.
Program opener “Loosen Up” fades in over a tantric round of guitar, mystic symbol work, and this chorus: “What makes us think that we’re smart when we don’t even know/how it will end?/ What makes us think that we’re old/when we don’t even know/when it began?” Better to start things off easy. Two songs later, I am grooving to Darrell Bourque’s bass-bounced sounds of “Back to the Future,” a rock-rhythm’d ditty with an infectious chorus and a meticulous beat. Immediately after is Jake Morris’ righteous cowbell array in “Little Kings” and the epileptic guitar interplay between Ben Whitesides and Murphy Kasiewicz. Note to reader: Any band that can work the “More Cowbell” philosophy is a band worth keeping in rotation.
On first listen, the robust clash of sound comes across more whack than noteworthy; time signatures, tempo and intelligibility are often swept up one second only to be highly exaggerated the next. But soon tracks like “Natural Novice,” “Oriental Alarms” and “I’m Not Convinced” roll in like a wave of addiction. The entire record reveals itself, listen after listen, as a subtly harmonious arrangement, refined with intelligence and mastered with skill.
But can our boys in the band keep up the pace and stay ahead of New York’s retro rock scene? With labelmates the Walkmen, the Natural History and French Kicks, the rockstar factor could go to straight to their heads. On the other hand, this assemblage of talented 20-somethings has pulled off a remarkable debut that actually highlights the strengths of each member in the band. With a style devoid of dominant lead singing and signature six-string ubiquity, the Joggers could have the endurance to soak their sweatbands for some time.