By DONNA BALANCIA
Pow! has been steadily growing its fan base. The San Francisco-bred music manipulators are heavy into synth and thrive on creating new and far out sound however it can be done. With the new album, Shift, the listener is drawn into a compelling dystopian world devoid of time or space continuum.
The work is appreciated on many levels as these three break all the “rules” — if there are any anymore — of what a good song is supposed to sound like. There’s an industrial bent to the Pow! songs that keeps the listener marching right along with these experimenters of audio opportunities.
Byron Blum is a forward-thinking, mysterious character, serious about his guitar work but also an enthusiastic and jovial lover of music. With the blonde (sometimes blue or pink or purple) -haired Betty Boop-style Melissa Blue, they run the gamut of song styles.
The percussion on this album by Cameron Allen is a remarkable feat — the range from war-like tom toms to efficient finesse coexists with synth and guitar, extracting beats so unusual that the work is squeezed into each bar. Allen’s work is the hammer that keeps the structure on schedule.
There’s the feeling that while Shift (Castle Face) has 11 tracks, there are plenty more where these came from.
“Disobey” was a good choice to release as a single ahead of time, it’s catchy and just weird enough but displays a commanding use of a variety of tools to make an innovative new punk alternative sound. Upon closer examination, there’s a lot we need to disobey beyond politics.
“Dream Decay” has a nifty ’80s synth sound to it, something one might picture as the track to a Melanie Griffith movie if she were escaping Martians in the third dimension.
“Free The Floor” is like a bunch of mind numb classroom kids reciting their mantra set against a freaky ye old England style quasi-speak. It’s one of the more compelling songs on the record in that it’s almost as if the devil came to dance disco.
“Night Nurse” is like being Christopher Moltisanti at the carnival back in New Jersey except freakier. It starts out with the merry-go-round music and shifts gear into a percussion-heavy chant. The song has some interesting chord progression and simple but commanding guitar. The continual manipulation of the speed of the audio is a compelling effect.
“Scissors” has one of those ominous sounds, almost as if Frankenstein has awoken and is now walking down the city streets.
If you didn’t know that John Dwyer was involved (the record is released through his Castle Face label) it might be guessed from the unique and similarly frenetic and deceptively cohesive melodies.
Regardless Pow! is on track to win over many fans for both their charismatic performances and innovative and uniquely dynamic audio.