Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2001 : 34 "Forcefield" by Lightning Bolt

By 2001, American punk looked, at least to this observer, like a pair of rather stagnant pools. On the one hand you had the pop-punk of the mainstream, recombining the increasingly empty signifiers of "Punk" in search of market value. On the other hand you had the underground, but only the most dedicated delvers could find the gems sunk within in its dispiriting glut. Then along came Rhode Island duo Lightning Bolt. Their album Ride the Skies, aside from being excellent, is also snotty, annoying, libidinal, minimalist, spastic, and palpably gleeful. In short, it contains, in a very pure form, nearly every pleasure that punk music ever provided.

Depsite this, I balk at calling Lightning Bolt "punk," exactly: they're really too weird and ecstatic for the label to fit. Maybe you could call them "art punk." This is a little more apt, given their affiliation with the Providence / RISD scene of the early Aughts. This scene—infamously centered around the "Fort Thunder" art space—got known for its brilliant, damaged, psychedelic visual aesthetic, to which Lightning Bolt's music is the precise sonic analogue.

Jeremy Bushnell

Listen: Lightning Bolt >> "Forcefield"

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