Be very skeptical when a band's press bio (or a press-bio- parroting critic) drops names like Dinosaur Jr., Hüsker Dü, and Meat Puppets. Inevitably, disappointment will set in once you actually play the disc. But occasionally a group comes along that can withstand lofty comparisons like the ones tendered above. While Olympia's Gun Outfit aren't quite as monumental (yet) as those SST Records titans, their debut album, Dim Light, is an impressive salvo of hard, tuneful rock.
Composed of Dylan Sharp (guitar, vocals), Caroline Keith (guitar, vocals), and Reuben Storey (drums), Gun Outfit most obviously resemble Dinosaur Jr. with their scouring blasts of Mascis-like guitar venting and deadpan, glum vocals. "Work Experience," "Troubles Like Mine," and "Guilt and Regret" are a triple dose of walloping up-tempo rock with fangs. Gun Outfit understand the importance of dynamics, surging and receding to increase the songs' overall power. They also realize the merits of brevity: The longest track on Dim Light is 3:54 and most clock in under three minutes.
While the bulk of the album runs at a pulse-pounding pace, "The Valley" slows things down to a moody, spangly canter, revealing a prettier side to the group. But the predominant style is epitomized by "Cocaine Woman," which captures the frenzied rush and brutal comedown of that drug (or so I've heard), as Keith drapes Thalia Zedek–esque vocal moroseness over the stun-gun guitars. "Had Enough" and "Your Will," the latter of which appeared on the Rough Trade comp Counter Culture 08, tap into that early-X vein of male/female vocal tussling, as the guitars tsunami with thrilling verve. The contrast between flat vocals and manically expressive guitars creates a pleasing friction.
Maybe Gun Outfit should send Greg Ginn a demo after all.