Out & About

If you were hip to such solid powerhouses as Born Against, Moss Icon, the Great Unraveling and Universal Order of Armageddon, then you'd expect Tonie Joy, a former member of all of the above, to know a thing or three about (post) hardcore. As guitarist-vocalist in The Convocation Of..., along with bassist Guy Blakeslee and drummer George France, Joy doesn't disappoint. This tight trio smelts a sturdy plank of sophisticated, Stooges-qua-Hendrix fire and brimstone filtered through about two decades of punk thrash. Joy lays down taut, angular guitar lines that buzz without having to sacrifice any melodic pegs. In fact, it's Joy's stylish command of his guitar as both a reckless noise machine and the provider of power hooks that makes the Convocation's sound so odd and inviting. His tone swerves from wide-bodied, late-'60s psych fuzz to warm, '70s-era distortion to the contempo dissonance of Zeni Geva. But it never outshines the lively rhythmic hypnosis that Blakeslee and France ease in and out of like birds diving for fish. As with Fugazi in instrumental mode, Convocation occasionally sounds as if its songs' rhythms are rooted more in dub layers than in the carefully plotted time changes that mark, and occasionally mar, Slint-y acolytes, math-rock metal heads and emo confessors. It all combines for one of the more oddly refreshing and enigmatically compelling musical stews around in guitar-based indie rock.

Its self-titled debut album--which came out on the Gold Standard Laboratories imprint, home of such other arty noise mongers as !!!, Gogogo Airheart and the Locust--is a lean, lanky prep for what the band may have in store on its upcoming Tiger Style release, Pyramid Technology. Think Harriet the Spy, only more unfuckwithable. No, think Modest Mouse, then take out all the oh-woe-is-me whining. Or think Drive Like Jehu, but tone down the `70s-style guitar flamboyance. No, think Shellac, but take out Steve Albini's grating voice. Or better yet, think Unwound and take out the epic prog moments. Oh, fuck it--just think nothing. And find a way to wrap your head around the rich racket stirred up by this gang of three.

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Bret Mccabe