The Asound Are up Here on Another Wave, Covered in Hair

When last heard from, North Carolinian rock trio The Asound were splitting their time with the more punk-fueled Flat Tires on a Tsugiri Records 7”. The label, run by The Asound bassist Jon Cox, now presents his band on a three-song self-titled CD EP. Their riff-led material is still rough sounding as it was last time, but taken on its own context, i.e. without another band on the release, it’s no harsher than any number of underground bands, the guitars of Chad Wyrick managing to come through just fine.

The first two tracks of The Asound’s The Asound will be familiar to anyone who heard the Flat Tires split… because they’re the same. Both “Joan” and “Snow White” appeared on the prior release, the change they’re getting here being mostly as regards format. The louder I play it, the less I care about the production quality of “Joan” (funny how that works), the low-end groove taking hold for the 4:50 duration and drummer Michael Crump’s kit bearing a no-doubt-coincidental sonic likeness to that on the last Goblin Cock record, or at least sounding no worse. Vocals are handled by Wyrick, who shows a Josh Homme influence in his clean delivery (not a complaint) and isn’t shy either about adding the occasional scream to the mix. As “Joan” plays out, Cox’s progression reminds some of Sleep, but if there’s a direct comparison to be made to another band, it’s got to be likening “Snow White” – the shortest track on The Asound at just 2:17 – to “Monsters in the Parasol” from Queens of the Stone Age’s classic Rated R. At least in its opening section, The Asound’s track is an almost direct port, if sped up, of the Homme-penned LSD paean, though to be fair, the trio don’t persist in the likeness, taking the structure to someplace else entirely.

As the longest cut (6:17), closer, and only song here-present that wasn’t also on Flat Tires vs. The Asound, “Open Eyes” is also the most individual of the songs. Wyrick wisely keeps the smirking Homme-ian inflection in his voice – he’s good at it and not many are – and Crump takes a more active role on the drums, which makes the arrangement feel fuller and busier, but still by no means overdone. Even in its raw presentation, the track affects a successful build, balancing a live feel with its bolstered sense of songwriting. On the whole, “Open Eyes” feels more worked out than either of the preceding tracks, though timing in writing and recording is always a tricky thing to judge and it could just be that the song is older and has been played more, allowing Crump, Cox and Wyrick more time to feel out what they want to play on it.

In any case, one hopes  The Asound will take the increased melodic complexity therein as a model for future material. I find in listening to the first to tracks on their own and the new third that I’m no less intrigued at the beginnings of this band now than I was when I heard the split; if anything, more so. The Asound captures the immediate exploration of a band at their most nebulous stage, and for that, it holds an interest even beyond any “cool riffs, bro”-type reactions it might elicit. There’s still work and growing to be done, but if The Asound’s self-titled demonstrates anything, it’s that the time and effort will be justified.

The Asound on MySpace

Tsuguri Records

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