I was recently shocked to discover that my brother was “salmoned out.” In other words, being a northwesterner, like myself, he realized that he had grown tired of a local staple, that being salmon. I couldn’t understand it. I love salmon! A mere few weeks later, I understood, only by way of an odd comparison, salmon to indie music. Throw Me the Statue started out as the solo project of one Scott Reitherman, a Seattleite, if not in birth, then at least in presentation. His first effort, Moonbeams, excited lo-fi indie fans with a penchant for quaint guitar jangles accompanied by quirky lyrics. A stopgap EP managed to transform and quell expectations at the same time, in preparation for the sophomore full length. The result is an album about as typically northwestern as they come. It might as well have been packaged with a rainslicker, a latte and a “Free Ballard” sticker for the Subaru.
I remember seeing a website called Jaguaro presenting a very interesting article called, 100 Albums You Should Remove from Your Collections Immediately. I was shocked to discover that Nirvana’s Nevermind had made the top five. How could any self-respecting website coax people into getting rid of one of the most seminal albums of the CD generation? Of course, then I realized, I hadn’t listened to the damn album in nearly ten years, merely proving their point. Of course, I still kept it, and a few years down the road there was a massive Nirvana resurgence with anniversary box sets and the rampant nostalgic fervor that accompanied them. But it took quite a few years to get to that point. With the twee-ish, disaffected, low volume, lo-fi aftermath of grunge, we are still not yet in that warm and distant afterglow.
While grunge may have been decidedly Seattle-based, this recent batch of music, the kind played by Throw Me the Statue, is more region than city-centered. The northwestern sound includes not only Seattle bands such as TMTS, but also Idaho bands, acts from various cities and towns in Oregon, and even a few from Northern California. Creaturesque seems to be so rooted in the flavors and styles of the northwest that I found myself searching for some kind of disparity, of any unique quality, of something that didn’t make me feel that I’d heard it all before. Those moments were hard to come by. That’s not to say that the album is not without its charms. The opening bouncy horns and piano of “Waving at the Shore” is certainly fun and infectious, a welcome bit of summer pop confection. “Ancestors” is another memorable track, but possibly only because it sounds almost exactly like other bands stationed north of the 47th parallel. “Hi-Fi Goon” is essentially Built to Spill mashed up with the Shins, and not necessarily in an inventive way. “Noises” is equally charming, yet I found in this particular song the problem I was finding in most of the tracks, a lack of excitement. The songs chug along in the same spiritless valleys without any hope of escape into more fervent climes. These are songs on a soundtrack for the horribly depressed.
Need another odd connection? “Baby, You’re Bored,” a nod to Evan Dando, sounds to me like Marcy Playground, a band who was heavily influenced by the Seattle sound, despite their New York roots. Essentially, if you can’t seem to get enough of the Long Winters, Built to Spill, the Shins, Grandaddy, Rogue Wave or Band of Horses, then you’ll love the latest Throw Me the Statue album. Me? I’m kind of “salmoned out.” The problem isn’t so much in the songcraft as it is with basic timing. Had this album come out maybe six to eight years ago, we might be singing the band’s praises rather than exulting in their “promise.” When the deluxe editions of Keep It Like a Secret, Chutes Too Narrow and The Sophtware Slump get released, and Rhino comes out with the pine-scented, skinny-jeaned, coffee cup shaped box set, Waterlogged: The Best of the Northwest, this album will most likely get its best chance of being embraced.
didn’t I pretty much go through this already?