Monday, April 14, 2008

Haunted When
the Minutes Drag

The Old Haunts,
Poisonous Times,
Kill Rock Stars (8.3)

Since 2001, the Old Haunts
have been hiding in plain sight. That isn't to suggest they're an unknown quantity, but the trio would be a more natural fit for Sympathy for the Rec-
ord Industry (original home of the White Stripes) or In the Red (domicile of the Dirtbombs). Or even Vice (see the Black Lips).

Not that Kill Rock Stars doesn't boast a diverse roster—it ranges from the sadly-departed Elliot Smith to the major-bound Gossip—but the Old Haunts are coming from a slightly different place.

Like 2005's Fallow Field and 2006's Fuel on Fire, Poisonous
Times—their first to feature former Bikini Kill drummer Tobi
Vail—isn't full-on garage-punk, but the genre underpins their
intentionally wobbly sound, which incorporates blues and
country influences (Vail, incidentally, is a label employee).

In a geographic sense, their off-center music isn't rooted to
one location either, since comparisons to NYC's Television,
LA's Gun Club, and Portland's Dead Moon wouldn't be mis-
placed (like KRS, the Old Haunts are based out of Olympia).

Rounded out by co-founder Scott
Seckington on bass, guitarist Craig
Extine wields a vibrato-laden warb-
le that recalls both Jeffrey Lee Pier-
ce and Jack White, and the latter has
never made any secret of his affection
for the late Gun Club front man (the
'Stripes used to open gigs by play-
ing Fire of Love over the PA).

Overall, though, Poisonous Times seems more introspective than previous recordings. Several selections rock as hard as before, but there are more quiet ones, which share an REM (circa "Radio Free Europe") or Velvet Underground (circa "Pale Blue Eyes") vibe.

On the Dirtbombs' Dangerous Magical Noise, Mick Collins blasts
through a lament called "Stuck in Thee Garage." It's a place he
didn't want to be; on Poisonous Times, the Old Haunts prove
the garage may be less confining than Collins suggests.

Endnote: "Haunted When the Minutes Drag" comes from Love
and Rockets
' Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. The Old
Haunts play the Sunset Tavern on 4/17. For more info, please
click here. Images from the AMG and the Old Haunts website.

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