"I Blame You"

(Sub Pop 2009)Obits - I Blame You

"Mature" does not always have bad connotations. Take fine wine or cheese, for example, or, in this case, great music. In their debut full-length, Obits shows that they are seasoned, experienced, and skilled at what they do. Singer/guitarists Rick Froberg (Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes) and Sohrab Habibion (Edsel) have been around the indie rock block, and "I Blame You" sees them slamming out some hi-octane, hi-quality rock 'n' roll. The first half of the record tears along with reckless abandon. The opening track is an indie/punk companion to Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream," and "Two-Headed Coin" lays down a hard groove that had me doing some serious chin pumping. The band opens up the textbook on grungy riffs for "Pine On" and throws in some surf-guitar for good measure. The second half takes it down a notch to more somber but no less energetic tunes like the lushly-reverbed "Milk Cow Blues" and the indie/Motown (what!?) "Back and Forth," whose verse could be straight off a record by The Supremes.

One of the reasons that "I Blame You" sounds so good is that every single moment is truly genuine. A rock album with more commitment than pretension is a tough find these days. Obits has enough musical maturity to realize that it doesn't work to try to be original. As Froberg says, "that should take care of itself...We'll start out by referencing a Shangri-La's song, but we come out with a twisted mess of a thing that doesn't sound like it at all, which works for us." The raw, gritty energy that courses through "I Blame You" is the result of experienced musicians doing what they were made to do - make awesome music without caring about who it's for. All of the scorching guitar-driven fun is there without the sludgy distortion of metal or the masturbatory quirkiness of current indie rock, which makes for a truly refreshing musical experience.

My high expectations for a band led by two indie rock veterans were tempered by the fact that I hadn't heard a rock record that excited me since "Songs for the Deaf" (Queens of the Stone Age) back in '02. But halfway through the second song I was rocking out and the rock drought was over - Obits had arrived. It may not have the shine and gimmicks to go platinum, but if you are into fiery rock 'n' roll that's rooted in "real" indie rock (before it went mainstream) you'd better go and grab this one.


buy it!