Rock in a hard place

Township climb a rock scene that’s neither
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  February 19, 2010

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CUT ’EM SOME SLACK: “People just assume that if you have long hair, you must be out of touch,” says Marc Pinansky.

That little twang of cognitive dissonance you feel in your brain when someone refers to a “Boston rock scene” is perfectly normal. There is, of course, no such thing — or at least, not anymore. I’m pretty sure there was at one point, but if the prevailing metaphor of that time presented such a unified scene as the heart of our city, it has since turned into something more like the endocrine system — a vaguely connected network of clandestine little nodes secreting specific signals to satisfy specific needs. In Township’s case, this would be the need to rock out with one’s cock out.

“Everyone is still trying to out-cool everybody else, which makes it like the wimpiest Wild West scene ever.” That’s another way of putting it. Lead beard, singer, and guitarist of local foursome Township (a band we once described as being “like Sabbath and Purple, only blacker and deeper”) isn’t trying to be bitchy — he’s just saying. (Besides, I kind of pushed him into it by asking whether Township have any kindred spirits around here — that is, fearless advocates or acolytes of their majestic, spectral, denim-vestedly literal classic rock.) “People just assume that if you have long hair, you must be out of touch. We just play music that we love, and when people see it, they get it. So, yes, we have found some kindred spirits, but it’s not because of the style of music, it’s just the absolute devotion to it.”

That’s the sort of rock-band realness that sends the little “fuck yeah” indicator on my internal dashboard all a-blink. It’s a similar sensation to the one I get listening to Township Vol. 1 (King Yum), their newly compiled, freshly remastered “greatest hits” of sorts, judiciously plucked from two EPs’ and two LPs’ worth of material spanning their past prolific four years.

Not only does Vol. 1 provide a succinct solution to merch-table quandaries, it rules in a way that requires zero reflection. “Highway,” “Beaver Fever,” and “Sinister Minister” — with their high-fiving lick fits and matching song titles — satisfy before they’re even finished loading. Pinansky’s guitars (which now have new member and erstwhile Bang Camaro founder Alex Necochea’s to tangle with), wrap themselves in tight melodic knots around Greg Beadle’s thudding drums and John Sheeran’s nimble bass. “Gunnin’ thru the Nite” doesn’t just rip because it’s called “Gunnin’ thru the Night” — it actually goes and guns thru its own proverbial nite, lighting the space around it with flares of delay and tearing down its road with propulsive, fiery riffage. If there’s a gimmick, it’s that the track rocks shamelessly, with no apologetic innovations or artifice in the name of art. This puts Township in the minority. What does it say about a town’s rock scene that our most purist practitioners feel a little lonely?

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