Dust & Stars
When tragically underrated Portland band Wet Confetti broke up in 2007, the three members—bassist/vocalist Alberta Poon, guitarist Dan Grazzini, and drummer Mike McKinnon—kept making music together, taking a new name, Reporter, and transforming their sound thoroughly enough as to genuinely constitute a new band. (The three band members even appear to have taken new first names for the project.)
Wet Confetti paired bassist/singer Alberta (May) Poon's distant, disaffected (but tuneful) vocals with jerking-back-and-forth post-punk drumming and slightly dissonant synth and guitar. Reporter retain Poon's distinctively captivating vocals and bolster them with singing from guitarist Dan (Freddy) Grazzini, but their sound is radically reimagined. Almost entirely dispensed with is Wet Confetti's nervous rhythmic tension and occasional aggressive outbursts—Grazzini's guitars are washed out with reverb and fuzz, Mike (Brian) McKinnon's drumming is easy rolling and steady, and the effect is often an in-vogue indie-pop sound reminiscent of Vivian Girls or the late Slumberland Records roster, with just a touch of Wet Confetti's old dark corners.
The most vivid example of this on Dust & Stars is perhaps "Set Fire," whose bobbing bass, classic guitar jangle, slightly hissing high hats, and understated but insistent chorus have been echoing in my head for days now. But this welcome sound abounds throughout the record, especially on the excellent Grazzini-led numbers "It Could Work Out," "Wild Dogs," and "Battleship Island." "It Could Work Out" is every bit as catchy as "Set Fire," Grazzini's shrugging vocals and slackly strummed guitar backed by Poon's faint harmonies; "Battleship Island" is prime pogo-ing material (notably, Poon has been known to perform with the aid of a trampoline), its drums beating a punk double-time while the bass and guitar race and swerve around each other.
Dust & Stars is compelling proof that Reporter are not just renamed but an entirely renewed band.
Reporter perform Tues Feb 10, marsBar, 9 pm, $6, 21+. With Fist Fite, the Hail Seizures, Jes Blackwell.