Words About Music
Naomi Punk “Television Man”
Olympia, Washington is home to some of punk’s best bands, like Bikini Kill, Unwound, and Sleater-Kinney. Lest we forget some other awesome artists like Earth, The Microphones, Kimya Dawson, Wolves in the Throne Room, RVIVR, and Beat Happening. Olympia has enjoyed a great music scene for a while, and with new bands forming all the time one can hope that the legacy can continue. Naomi Punk is a minimalist noisy avant-punk trio that hails from Olympia, and they do things differently. Their sound is a type of lo-fi garage rock reminiscent of Steve Albini’s best productions. The music isn’t particularly fast, but it’s certainly pummeling and dissonant. Fans of No Age, Cloud Nothings, and Big Black should listen closely.
“Television Man” is Naomi Punk’s second release, and my first couple times through this album confused me. Nothing seemed to stick in my mind. “Television Man” felt weird and incomplete and not at all what I was expecting. While I’ve since grown to appreciate it quite a bit more, I still have a few complaints about “Television Man” and Naomi Punk in general. For one, it seems like Naomi Punk are pretty much sticking to a formula. Slow, off-kilter, rebellious post-garage punk jams with an occasional lo-fi synth thrown in. It could be the sloppiest shoegaze record yet, or perhaps the most ingenious garage rock album ever thrown together. Either way, it’s off-putting and doesn’t seem to warrant repeat listens from me.
I have nothing wrong with experimentation, and what Naomi Punk have going is certainly experimental and uncompromising. I’m just worried that their use of repetition, angular riffs, and almost arhythmic drums is going to get old. This album is only 36 minutes, but it almost feels twice that. To use a word I despise, “Television Man” is a bit too same-y to strike me as awe-inspiring or revolutionary. A shining moment on a slightly dull album is the closing track, the 8-minute “Rodeo Trash Pit,” the only song that I feel was the right length of time. Perhaps Naomi Punk’s future is in lengthy songs, something akin to Swans-meets-Titus-Andronicus.
What “Television Man” feels like to me is a series of interesting ideas that will hopefully germinate into a third album that feels more realized and full. Naomi Punk’s slow-grunge sound is cool and well-performed, but it’s done to death on this album. At this point I could predict a Naomi Punk song. I hope for the band’s sake that they take their ideas and turn them into full-fledged songs that feel less like odes to Mudhoney and more like odes to their own scuzzy swamp-rock selves.
SCORE – 6.3
FAVORITE TRACKS – Firehose Face, Television Man, Eleven Inches, Linoleum Tryst #19, Rodeo Trash Pit