Album Reviews

Broken Water – Tempest

Justin Spicer / May 30, 2012

Score: 8.7
Hardly Art
Broken Water

Olympia trio Broken Water has been swimming under choppy waters. Through a smattering of limited vinyl releases, the band has accumulated a small following and superfluous press clippings christening them as the next wave.

Tempest ushers it in with a maelstrom of tidal influence. Broken Water does not shy away from their no wave and shoegaze influences, creating a batch of songs saturated with recognizable cornerstones but no less inventive. There are few bands cranking out fuzz and sludge with the force and frequency of Jon, Kanako and Abby.

They have learned well in Olympia, distilling the Pacific Northwest’s two decades of musical relevance into a weather pattern as destructive and unpredictable as their album’s namesake. Tempest swells and bows with heaviness. There’s no mistaking Jon’s likeness to Thurston Moore when he grips the mic on “Underground” and “Coming Down,” both leaning toward Sonic Youth’s aggressive beginnings. The viscous mud and torrential drizzle of Washington adds a layer of skuzz that dries into a crust when the summer sun of “Some Thread to Connect” wakes and bakes Tempest to a heady crisp.

“Some Thread to Connect” and its ilk (“Yanka Dyagileva,” “River Under the River,” lead single “Drown”) are the backbone of Tempest. Though worthy comparisons to the past help place Broken Water’s sound, it doesn’t date it. “River Under the River” fashions quiet-loud in loud-louder at a leisurely pace. “Yanka Dyagileva” is melodious noise. The bridge a graveled rattling off garbled profanities, soothed by the bellicose sway of the verse; a ferry caught adrift in the angry Puget Sound.

“When You Said” best summarizes the splendor of Broken Water. It’s acoustic chime a lighthouse in the middle of the storm. Broken Water leaves us with one last deluge, Jon’s voice warbling in the calm before the vicious winds of the chorus sweep Tempest and its swollen barge into the Pacific.

Tempest is as weathered as it suggests. Broken Water has absorbed and funneled countless influences into their warped mien. As the first widespread gale the band’s delivered to the masses, Tempest treats old fans to a maturing band conjuring up stronger storms as it introduces the band to a new audience. The edge, the passion and the fury is still palpable. Get blown away with Tempest.

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