Local Wire

31 Knots

What was it Roger Daltrey sang on The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" — "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"? Maybe it's the curse of remembering what rock music was like before 1977, but some of the latest by 31 Knots sounds like the stuff the first wave of punk rock (1975-79) was rebelling against. During the first half of Worried Well, vocalist Joe Haege sings with all the humility of Sting, Bono, and that guy from Kansas at their most grandiose and self-important. Their tunes have enough ponderous, herky-jerky bombast to make your Yes/Emerson Lake & Palmer-loving older sibling (or parent) moist with bongwater nostalgia. "Compass Commands" even has an "Another Brick in the Wall"-like vocal chorus. (Oy.) The second half is a little better. Haege's voice takes on a pointed, vinegary, and sardonic tone, and the songs have greater subtlety — darker, more angular, like a cross between pre-Skylarking XTC and the artier side of The Doors. "Opaque" is a Sgt. Pepper-like slice of thorny psychedelia, and "Worried Not Well" thunders with the raw urgency of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth. Try to hear before purchasing.
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Mark Keresman