Old Haunts is the latest export from grunge’s famous sloppy seconds, Olympia, Wash., featuring prolific scene mainstay Tobi Vail on skins rounding out a standard three-piece with Craid Extine and Scott Seckington. The Old Haunts play something that is part content but also partly riled up, angry and young. These are seasoned punks who know enough of what they’re doing to prevent overdriving a point as more naive bands are wont to do.
Seckington’s low-end is fuzz-laden in its tuning but jovial in its delivery. Vail is efficient and crisp as a drummer of minimalist tendencies. She lays down a steady, derisive beat that pounds steadfast with out fault or indulgence—though in some regions, like the ones that spawned Beat Happening, minimalism can, in fact, be indulgence, but let’s leave that aside. Extine’s guitar work is just as playful but more rollicking and, to put it plainly, louder than any other components. His vocals sneer and howl with a Jack White ballsiness that is rather complimentary to his axe aesthetics.
Old Haunts vaunts a kind of kitchen sink politics that anyone in and around the age of 15 and over can get behind. Each song is a simmering mini-anthem with just as much hippie playfulness as there is punk acidity. But such is the kind of ever-tipping balance of the Olympia aesthetic, the kind of town that took Fugazi’s ball and ran the distance. In that respect, Old Haunts is no exception with its meshing of punk ferocity and the tender skeleton of call and response folk. It’s not something that’s terribly new, though it’s not like it really has to be.
The personnel of this band have already achieved considerable success in ways of influencing people, there’s hardly a need to do much more. Sure it seems like they’re chilling the fuck out, but they certainly haven’t calmed down, which in itself is refreshing.