Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Skating Polly Packs A Punk Punch

Skating Polly
Stepsisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse never planned to start a band. It happened naturally, starting out as an impromptu jam session that evolved into Skating Polly. Five years later, it's almost impossible to believe it was an accident.

Nowadays, Mayo and Bighorse are being propelled by the same names that inspired them — Exene Cervenka, Kliph Scurlock, Rosanne Cash, Sean Lennon, and Mike Watt (to name a few). Some days it seems everyone who touched or was touched by 70s punk or 90s alternative rock wants to urge the largely self-taught musicians forward.

"The musicians we’re most inspired by are the ones who keep on going and going, who devote their entire lives to coming up with new and different stuff," says Mayo. "A lot of times at our shows people will come up to us and tell us, 'Keep on doing what you’re doing, don’t ever stop’ and we’re just like, ‘Yeah—we weren’t planning on ever stopping.'"

Fuzz Steilacoom catches the duo in a new maturity.

Gone are innocent vocals dishing out lyrics beyond their years. Those have been replaced by increasingly smoky voices and aggressively played instruments, with Bighorse on guitar and Mayo on her hybrid basitar. (Both can play drums and piano.) Sure, the arrangements retain much of their minimalistic beginnings, but with a much fuller sound.

The result is a vitality that continues on unhindered across all 11 tracks. On the front end, it almost seems as though Mayo and Bighorse have relied too heavily on distortion and fuzz to fill up their arrangements until you realize there is much more to it.

The girls might tap some inspiration from legendary bands that create punk and alternative rock, but inspiration is where it ends. While some tracks have a familiar aesthetic to them, they also have equal parts originality. They're often primal and punched up.

Alabama Movies is a growing up bad girl attitude song that invites sing-along punk chants. The lyrics hit a surprisingly broad age range, appealing to both a younger crowd and those who merely remember what it was like to be younger. The brilliance of that kind of track is in giving it a stronger shelf life. It's something you'll play again in ten years with equal fondness.

After Alabama Movies, Scummy Summer brings in some over-distorted early Weezer inspirations. The effect might cause some concern that the duo might have overproduced the entire LP until they bring it back down to earth in Ugly. The angry and sometimes snarling tune is driven by an unrelenting bass groove and deflective contempt.

The brashness of the album carries on with Break Your High, Lily, and Van Gogh with a slightly diminishing rate of urgency. As the the duo slows down, the air begins to clear and the music takes on a more minimalistic and animalistic feel. Even when it slows down, the lyrics are poignant and biting.

Other standouts on the album include the bash-and-take-a-breath structure of Play, the distant and confined introduction to Blunderland (before it erupts into a bigger song), and the long-play near- theatrical and experimental A Little Late. Even Dead Friends and Your Honor, which aren't among the stronger songs on the album, have redeeming B-side qualities to them.

Fuzz Steilacoom By Skating Polly Grinds Out 8.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Overall, these Oklahoma natives are such a novelty that it is easy to understand why their heroes have taken to cheering them on. There are times when Skating Polly revives an energy that is sometimes lost by bands trying to push the envelope or produce something that might cross over. This duo will have none of it. And we're glad to hear it.

You can find Fuzz Steilacoom by Skating Polly on Amazon or download it from iTunes. The band is currently on a sporadic collection of engagements. Check them out on Facebook.
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