Get Out! :: 11.16.07; 11.17.07

This weekend marks the release of two new EPs by two of Columbia’s finest bands. First up, dirty rockers The Unawares will be releasing Tooth Dip Friday night at Hunter-Gatherer. Recorded live to analog tape in three days at producer Chris Wenner’s home, Tooth Dip succeeds in catching the blistering live presence of the band. According to Wenner, “It’s about trying to capture the performance and making the band comfortable.” Shunning digital tricks, Wenner believes in the simplicity of his technique. “The tape adds its own saturation,” Wenner says. “Like sonic glue.” His methods certainly seemed to agree with the band, personally and sonically. “It’s minimalist, but definitely caught our authentic sound,” says drummer Rhett Berger.

And what a sound it is. The six tracks on Tooth Dip are a raucous, careening drive on a dark dirt road with the lights off. Vocalist-slash-guitarist John Watkins’s off-kilter lyrics match perfectly with his crooning vocal warble. Berger’s drums crash and crunch just as hard as they did when he and Watkins used to play together in high school, and in bassist James Wallace (erstwhile of The South Holes), they’ve found a perfect blend of technical skill and string-bending fervor. The music itself relies heavily on a garage- rock aesthetic with a dollop of Minutemen speed and a Robert Pollard-esque blend of lyrical absurdity and gravity. For a band a little over a year old, The Unawares have certainly found their groove quickly, making this type of recording possible — and preferable. While their first record, Hey Zeus, is equally satisfying, it was recorded before The Unawares even played a live gig together. “We didn’t have the chemistry that we have now,” Berger says. That chemistry is highly apparent on Tooth Dip — like a kid trying to blow up action figures with some fireworks and a chemistry set. The EP will be available at the show Friday and at Papa Jazz and Acme Records after that. But you can check out one track for yourself right here, and make sure to swing over to their myspace page for even more.

The Unawares Extract Lover

Saturday night at The Whig, Columbia can stop waiting for the new release from local phenoms Death Becomes Even The Maiden. Comprised of bassist-slash-vocalist Eric Greenwood (ex-From Safety To Where), guitarist Heyward Sims (ex-Bolt) and drummer Chris Powell (ex-Haunted Bulldozer), Death Becomes Even the Maiden has already garnered a well-deserved reputation as one of the best bands to come out of Columbia’s music scene in years, and this five-track EP, entitled The Arrangement, only gives that distinction more credence. Recorded at the Jam Room with engineer Steve Slavich, The Arrangement is another example of just how important it is for local musicians to have someone they trust behind the boards. According to Sims, “Steve knows how I work, and he and I just work quickly.” The album is technically brilliant: Greenwood’s vocals are especially impressive as he switches from melodic singing to scorching screams, giving his just-plain-fed-up lyrics weight; Sims’ guitarwork is as dexterous as ever, switching between nimble runs, heavy crunches and various squeals and beeps with seemingly effortless ease; then there’s Powell’s drums, tight and thunderous like the controlled explosions of a demolition crew. Like the band’s live shows, the EP is short and to the point — an ethic the band believes in. “Keep people wanting more,” is Greenwood’s credo, and the band certainly has. Speaking of Sims’ ability to constantly bring new material to the table, Greenwood says, “He’s just got so many ideas going; he’s so musical.” The members’ different backgrounds definitely lend to a unique sound. While not a perfect description, the best this poor music journalist can come up with is that Death Becomes Even the Maiden sounds like Nirvana doing Joy Division covers. But of course, all of Columbia will be able to judge for themselves on Saturday at The Whig, when they get to take home the best local recording of the year. Five bucks gets you into the show as well as a copy of the EP. Be sure to get there early. And bring earplugs.

Death Becomes Even The Maiden Control

The Unawares’ Friday night show at the Hunter-Gatherer begins at 11 p.m.; Glass Gnats (featuring Benoit St. Jacques and members of Grey Egg) open. Admission is $3; call 748-0540 for more information. Death Becomes Even the Maiden’s Saturday night show at The Whig begins at 11 p.m.; Black Swan opens. Call 931-8852 for more information.

(Note: This originally appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of Free Times.)

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