Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Static Choke, a dynamic trio from the suburbs of Chicago that has finally released their debut EP after trying to form the band for nearly a decade. Entitled ‘Low Resolution Solution,’ the punchy, relatively short EP is a fascinating listen, potentially providing the groundwork for a punk outfit that the indie music community very much needs. Let’s dig into it.
Static Choke open up their freshman EP with ‘Big Bang Pimp,’ a fiery, explosive excursion through distortion and lead vocals that border into realms of metal. Lead vocalist Greg Grunder has a set of pipes that tear down the walls of pretension often surrounding indie punk acts. His aggression feels authentic and honest - not manufactured. When one listens closely to the track, it’s also easy to hear that Grunder is matched by equally passionate performers. Vince Baugh, the drummer, is thunderous, and Pat O’Brien, the bassist, is very versatile in such a quick-moving soundscape.
While ‘Big Bang Pimp’ had musings akin to, perhaps, the Pixies, ‘Phil’ has stronger parallels to Nirvana and the grunge movement. The flat, droning vocal choruses are right off the cutting room floor of ‘In Utero.’ Static Choke don’t directly cite grunge as an influence or classification of their own music, but there’s definitely a line being walked between grunge and punk on ‘Phil.’ Similar to its predecessor, the song is less than two minutes, too. I adore that. Static Choke is making quick, wham, bam, thank you, ma’am rock and roll. There needs to be more of this.
‘Embalmer’ is the perfect finale to this short, but terrifically exciting set of tunes. Grunder, who also serves as the trio’s guitarist, is in his finest form on the track. This is a hard-hitting, macabre punk rock track that’s completely chock-full of intensity. I love the banter between the screamed and sung vocals as well. ‘Embalmer’ feels like the most enthusiastic song on the EP; it’s a perfect closer.
The reason that the indie punk community needs act like Static Choke is because it’s a scene that’s very often inundated by pretentious bands lost in the image of appearing to be ‘punk.’ While that’s nothing particularly new, it does create a space where critics like myself get a dozen absolutely awful punk acts across our desks each month. Static Choke breaks down those barriers: these are simple, intense, and enjoyable punk songs that don’t try to be more than they are. These songs are a raucous, but they’re a raucous that would be a hell of a good time to see live. Give the songs a spin; they’re worth your time.