I always root for the underdog and outside of this music thing I’m always happy to see friends succeeding at whatever it is they’re doing. It’s happened time and time again, and I’ve always shown my support. One should never expect the same in return and just give of oneself freely because if your expectations are high, you may be disappointed. The storm and stress that is 2020 haven’t affected the movement of some that continue to reach echelons in their respective industries and I’m happy I have the ability still to witness it. But what does this have to do with anything? Underdogs. That’s right, underdogs.
When a new group surfaces, I’m usually hesitant. When they come with listings of bands they might be similar to that I’ve enjoyed in the past, ok, I’m willing to give it a shot. BUT, if the new group is unable to fill those shoes, the proverbial kid gloves, those come off.
Sprain hails from the City Of Angels and has released its first album, its debut full-length so to speak, and its wreaking havoc on my senses here. As Lost Through Collision (The Flenser) is the album in question here and the release is only 5 tracks but includes some pretty lengthy numbers. The quartet, made up of guitarist Alex Kent, bassist April Gerloff, guitarist Alex Simmons, and drummer Max Pretzer make one hell of a racket, and I say that in the most obligatorily positive ways possible.
The group plays with sound and structure, and while they may fall into a math-like rock category, there’s much more to the band than varying time signatures and stop/stars. Its own press makes a slight homage to Unwound, Slint, and the like, which isn’t too far off. Reminder, that’s their own comparison, not mine. My own cheap comparison strays towards Rodan, June of 44, and to a lesser extent, U.S. Maple, with an emphasis on feedback and dissonance. And we all know where that leads us all. But we all understand it.
“Slant” opens the release and here we have the dynamic and tempo shifts from loud and abrasive to lulling and sweet and gradually increases in volume again with distant vocals. The song moves at such a varying pace, it’s easy to fall in love with it just wondering which direction it will head into next! The 9 minute long “My Way Out” lingers sparsely, softly, with hushed vocals for almost 6 minutes before exploding with a cacophony of guitars and thunderous rhythms, that would make even the greatest indie slowcore masters take note (that’s Codeine, in case I wasn’t clear.) But the sustained distortion and sudden stop, allows the band to hold tight on its own identity. It may go without saying that Sprain has the technical prowess many wouldn’t question but keeps its sound raw AF! You have to, especially with songs that push the 15-minute mark like “Everything.” It’s obvious, they don’t perform for anyone else’s liking but their own. What may seem like gratuitous noise fuckery after standard song play, to others it’s a melodious excursion in sound people have all but forgotten to explore. To some yeah, it might be gratuitous but to me it’s glorious.
Maybe it is an 80s/90s noise rock revival but “Worship House” brings the best of what the band has to offer here with dissonant guitars playing against one another and a rhythm that will have you nodding like that syringe in your arm.
Yes, it’s really easy to fall in love with the walls of guitar and puffy-chested rhythms the band has woven together on As Lost Through Collision. Yes, there’s no way anyone could hate what the group does from track to track. Everyone should stop and listen to Sprain; you don’t want to miss out. When your grandchildren asked you what happened in 2020, your only response should be, “I discovered one of the greatest bands. Sprain.”