The Standard Wire Post to Wire
- Released: March 23, 2004
- Originally Released: 2004
- Label: Yep Roc Records
Magnet - p.68"Frontman Tim Putnam's tremeloed warble is the band's most potent weapon..."
CMJ - 4/04, p.46"WIRE POST TO WIRE is a highly textured album with innovative instrumentation, thoughtful lyrical intensity and complex and passionate beauty."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
The Standard: Rob Oberdorfer, Jay Clarke, Ritchie Young, Tim Putnam, Robby Duncan.
Recorded at Supernatural Sound, Oregon City, Oregon and Mysterious Beard Studios, Portland, Oregon.
Personnel: Tim Putnam (vocals, guitar); Ritchie Young (guitar); Skip vonKuske (cello); Rob Duncan (drums); Alex James (background vocals).
Recording information: Mysterious Beard, Portland, OR; Supernatural Sound, Oregon City, OR.
The Standard took their time with Wire Post to Wire, the result being an album that's as gorgeously tasteful as it is frighteningly tense. There's something anxious in the pattering rhythm to the Clinic-ish "Even Numbers," and as the guitars rush forth you might expect an explosion. Instead, Jay Clarke's sophisticated piano line takes the fore, matching the fragility in Tim Putnam's wavering vocal. It's a pretty incredible thing to hear, this maturity. After all, aren't these post-everything bands supposed to be chock-full of vim, vigor, spike, and squelch? On the contrary, the Standard revel in fueling their angular (and angry) side with that incredible piano of Putnam's, and a lyrical mystery that's usually unsettling, but occasionally heartbreakingly gorgeous. It's like crying over a foreign film whose language you do not understand. The darker side of Wire has its day in the black sun with "Ghosts for Hire," which stutters and stops in post-punk melancholia as the guitarists build aching melodies from echoing stairways. The six-plus-minute "Folk Song" begins as a solo piano piece, with Putnam seeming to lament a mother's grief over her lost son. But his folksinger character becomes a rich and gluttonous man, and forgets his idealism as the song's steadily building instrumentation turns shadowy. By the climax it's unclear just what's happening, but Putnam sure sounds rueful. The Standard prove adept at these emotional shifts throughout Wire Post to Wire -- it's affecting stuff, even if the meanings aren't entirely clear. "Unicorns and Chemicals" is built around a Bacharach-ian melody, but is filled with murky lyrics about sanitarium ruins (?) and faraway plinking synthesizers, putting it closer to a sort of art-damaged Nick Cave. The spidery pinprick guitars of opener "Metropolitan" return for "A Black Machine," where they scatter over distorted bass and a stark pace akin to classic Mission of Burma. This is how it goes with the Standard and Wire Post to Wire. Comparisons to a round of past genres and artists abound, but the album is startlingly unique. It's compelling from start to finish, and leaves behind melody and scraps of torn imagery in the mind. ~ Johnny Loftus
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