Roommates - Winnifred
That whole lo-fi thing has been around for quite some time, and though we’ve had some refreshing reprieves from it in our guitar based rock of late, this blown-out aesthetic has dominated the genre. Winnifred, Roommates’ debut 7” on Slumberland, certainly embraces this aesthetic wholeheartedly, although in a manner a bit different to their fellow travelers.
Where Wavves, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and the like used lo-fi as a jumping off point for sun-drenched beach pop, Roommates - comprised of real life roommates Ben Cook (of Fucked Up fame) and Mark Fosco - seem to focus more on the freewheeling, windmilling, power chord strumming of lo-fi progenitors Guided By Voices. It’s in the harmonies of ‘1st Floor Blues’, the way they slam their short tracks together, and their ramshackle recording approach. Each bit of their style seems indebted in its own way to the work Bob Pollard, but these songs are catchy, powerful, and immediate enough to succeed despite falling well within established indie rock tropes.
Though throwing around the Fucked Up name will likely lead to images of barked vocals on top of searing guitar lines, Cook’s focus is a bit different. The edges are still jagged, but the hooks are much more apparent. There’s something about the format of the duo that often results in catchy immediate music. Instead of burying the song under the grand excess that a large band allows, the track is laid bare for all to see. Stripped down to guitar, drums, and vocals, the song underneath better be pretty good. Each track here certainly lives up to the expectation that such a format offers. These aren’t two guys lazily conjuring up pop punk in a garage because they can’t find anyone else to jam along with them, these are fully formed tracks presented in their most basic form. The unadorned strums and simple beat of ‘Back To The Sun’ recalls much of what Slumberland Records has become known for over the years and it’s amazing that a duo is able to pull that off.
Slumberland has hit yet again on an astoundingly catchy guitar based indie rock act. This shouldn’t really be news to anyone given their stellar track record with signings, but Roommates is something special. We’re only given 9 minutes of music on this debut release, but its enough to whet the appetite for what will hopefully be more to come. Though it's familiar, and well within the style that Slumberland has attached itself to, it's certainly worth checking out.