Review: "Roland," by Minutes


Minutes: “Roland”

I tried everything in my formative music years. No, not like that – get your mind out of the gutter. What I’m talking about here is styles, genres. My fanzine reading, the real entrée into punk rock, was as broad as I could make it – it was cheaper, after all, to read zines than to buy records blind as we waited for bands to come to New Hampshire (or tried to bum rides to Boston). Sometimes it was consensus amongst the swath, or sometimes it was some trusted arbiter throwing out a recommendation. Get burned a few times and pull names from the list; hit a few out of the park and keep reading.

                You know it goes: listening, after a time, becomes vetting. Screaming no, time changes yes, melody please. The sweet spot, the wheelhouse, is hard to pin down, but it’s there. Or was there, anyway – the very specific brand of band that makes me sit up and say “this is exactly it,” I thought, was exclusively a thing of the past. Or so I thought until this band Minutes blipped across my radar screen. Goddamn.

                The specifics of what makes this band so good are many. This is cerebral music, certainly, but the band is unafraid to wear many hats: “In Your Own Fuel” is a straight-charging, four-on-the-floor pounder, all party rock and cymbals, widened in scope by dual vox and a subtle guitar line sneakily snaking behind it all. This duality is at work throughout the rec: Minutes knows, and loves, the vocal trick where the sung vocals are deadpanned while the backing vocals are shouted, behind, in a higher pitch for extra emphasis, as in “Boxes.”  “I’ve Learned To Roll,” manages to play simultaneously languid and taut thanks to a guitar line which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Instrument soundtrack. “All Is For The Best” feels like Sonic Youth suddenly unconcerned with distortion or alternate tunings. And “Raise Our Fists Up!” Seriously one of the songs of the year all year: anthemic without being an anthem, tight dueling guitars forming notes where there are none, and that abrupt end, another trick the band knows and loves – get in, say it, and get out. (Minutes – get it?) If you hear some DC in your Kalamazoo, you’re right, as Ryan Nelson, he of Most Secret Method, one of my favorites, is here.

                The only negative here is that the band has been around for a while, and I missed them. Don’t make the same mistake. 

Michael T. Fournier