Forget New York. Screw Los Angeles. Hell, even Seattle can take a back seat. It seems like the current Petri dish for new and challenging rock is Columbus, Ohio. Not only have they produced Church of the Red Museum, a band I also wrote about recently, but now I have heard the Lindsay, another stellar act from the Buckeye state. The Lindsay is a four piece from Columbus that crosses boundaries between shoegaze, sixties rock and soulful pop with ease. Guitars sing like rock and roll guitars should, and the dual vocals of John Olexovitch and Gretchen Tepper could easily rival those of Black Francis and Kim Deal. The band’s debut album, Dragged Out, seems more than just an accomplished debut. It seems like the work of a band that has been playing together for years, having just reached the peak of their craft. Imagine if Doolittle were the Pixies’ first album and you might start to understand what I’m talking about. Yes, Dragged Out is that good.
The album begins with the tribal drumming of James Lavery before kicking into the dual guitar assault of Olexovitch and Tom Schmidt in “Life is Fair.” It’s as if they took the Detroit sound of the White Stripes and substituted Nick Cave’s lyrics. It’s nothing if not an ambitious beginning to an album full of aural treasure. “Ready to Run” is the second track, but the first one to really cause me to turn my head. The droning verses juxtaposed with the almost sing-song chorus, all backed by fuzzy guitars, make this song earworm for today’s discriminating indie fan. “High Heavens” churns with guitar noise like some of the best My Bloody Valentine songs, and can easily stand alongside those gems on its own merits.
“Abigail Folger” starts a fantastic trilogy of songs in the middle of the record, it being a psychedelic trip-out gem, with Zep-like guitars and that miracle vocal pairing that I know I’m not going to be able to get out of my head for some time. The second track in the three-song chain is another highlight, being the six-minute epic “Your Contemporaries.” It powers along with gorgeous guitar noise until the ultimate last minute of ultimate orgiastic feedback that would make Thurston Moore proud. “Callmemercury” makes a sixties-style folk rock song out of the periodic table element abbreviation as John and Gretchen intone, “Just call me Hg.” The song again provides such a fantastic combination of the dual vocal tracks that I wanted Gretchen to get her own “Gigantic.” But like all great bands, they managed to pull my attention in several different directions. The vocals were not the only magic being performed. There were also the overlapping guitars reminiscent of another great new band, the Black Angels, or going a step further, the distinctly different and amazing guitar styles of George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Listening to the thundering opening of “Hit the #,” I was surprised to find that several reviews found James Lavery’s drumming understated. Huh? This guy kicks ass! I haven’t heard drumming like this since Keith Moon! “Iranian Eyes” continues the melodic sixties’ influenced brilliance of this new band. The chanting of `all the same’ while Olexovitch sings his part is mesmerizing. By the time the last track, the six-minute “The Auger,” came around, another spectacular sonic experience that recalls Abbey Road-era Beatles, I wasn’t ready for the album to end. I felt like Charlie being yelled at by Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and asked to leave the chocolate factory! But, just as it was the simple act of returning the everlasting gobstopper that curried the favor of the eccentric factory owner, all it took to bring back the majesty of the Lindsay was pressing play one more time.