By Mark Jenkins
Friday, February 15, 2013
Rock instrumentalists usually emphasize either the groove or the riff. And that’s just how two D.C. combos divide it: The Plums improvise gushing, smeary juggernauts, while Talk It constructs tidy, roughly circular pieces.
Designed for audio cassette, the Plums’ “Nixon’s Mess” is cleaved into two 16-minute slabs of guitar feedback, squealing electronics, free-form drumming and the occasional propulsive bass line. The band, which usually performs as a quartet, is clearly not trying to ingratiate itself; the tone is dark and the timbres abrasive. And yet the musicians’ pleasure in making a big noise is contagious. “Nixon’s Mess” is sonically forbidding, but that’s balanced by an engaging sense of play.
Talk It’s debut EP, “Cluck-Cluck,” opens with Andrew Beaujon’s unadorned guitar, which recalls such twangy ’50s hits as Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk.” That guitar sound is prominent throughout, but Emily Rickman’s keyboards are almost as likely to lead.
The four tracks range from five to nine minutes, and from the jaunty to the pensive. They proceed as a series of contrasting passages, paced by drummer John Rickman. (He and Beaujon played in Eggs, a ’90s Arlington alt-pop band.) Save for an a cappella moment, the trio forgoes vocals, yet its compositions are structured as dialogues.