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GERM HOUSE – “Showing Symptoms LP/CD

Even in my most cynical lifecycle stages, I’ve usually found ways to make common cause with the wider world of “indie rock”. I have gladly spent real cash money seeing milquetoast
all-dude bands from Matador Records play lightly “angular” guitar, and in the
80s and 90s I felt as though I had a pretty good grasp on the innocuous and
sometimes halfway-decent music being put out on most indie labels. This likely
sprang from an overly robust fanzine collection, and many Sunday afternoon
hangovers spent poring through them.

Sure, I had my time making fun of the shit
bands in that world, but it was always more of a gas to needle some overly
serious wallet-on-a-chain garage punk clown or a dress-up horrorcore band than
it was a pack of earnest young men trying to sound like, I don’t know, Robyn
Hitchcock or Superchunk. In short, “indie rock” writ large may have been
musically tepid, but it was controlled and fairly isolated to college campuses
and bespectacled fellow travelers.

I’ll sometimes look at the
best-of-the-year lists on massively popular indie rock blogs now, where every record’s on a micro-label, and
I’ll half-wonder if I’m missing anything in my willed ignorance and start
clicking links. It might sound like some old guy complainin’, but some of the
watered-down drivel the kids are chawing about these days makes Pavement and
Polvo sound like Poison Idea.

The thought of spending an afternoon at an
outdoor festival watching bearded barefoots leap around to Sugar Bear, the
Sleepybeds
& Beaches and Summerhouses (faux names just minted via my 2015
indie rock band generator machine™)
sounds about as tasty as a Jello Biafra
spoken word all-nighter. So when something rises from the mire of the
indie-rock swamps and give me pause to reconsider my “stance”, it’s gotta be
remarkable.

Germ House may be that indie rock
band. Granted, they’d likely find their common cause less with the
aforementioned than with GBV or Wire, but they have a straightforward
earnestness and song construction that’s medium-sized-label indie rock to the
max. Turns out they’re a one-couple show, more or less, a Las Cruces, New
Mexico husband/wife project that grew from a Boston band you might have heard
called Turpentine Brothers.

I’ve played this album nearly weekly since I got
it, and I’m not done yet. It has a well-crafted, lo-fidelity gravel-n-tar roof
surrounding barely-held walls slapped together from equal parts melody and
menace. Main fella Justin Hubbard has a terrific voice to boot, and I could see
this stuff being gobbled up by Elephant 6-loving heads in the late 1990s. It’s not
often you and I will find a modern central-casting indie rock band this
remarkably and reliably great, top to bottom across an entire LP; suggest you
give it a whirl or swear to god I’m buying you a Coachella ticket. (Trouble
In Mind; troubleinmindrecs.com
)
– Jay

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