Release Date: Oct 13, 2009
Record label: Death By Audio
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It should not go unsaid that a band whose primary member works at a record shop generally benefits from the flood of new and different forms of music to which its chief songwriter is regularly exposed. Such is the case of Grooms front man Travis Johnson, who at press time can be found behind the counter at the best vinyl joint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Sound Fix. While it is not confirmed that Johnson is, in fact, inspired by the wax he rings up at Fix every week, one can certainly tell the influence of a combination of the Animal Collective catalog and vintage Unrest on his band’s debut full-length under its new moniker (the band formerly played under the unfortunate handle Muggabears).
On “Fag Feels Good,” one of the many gems that Grooms drop on their debut album Rejoicer, Travis Johnson slackishly sings about a place “where guitars sound like guitars. ” After having consumed way too many synth-banging, dance-party indie releases this year made by artists who never stopped to consider the critical message on track seven of EPMD’s Business Never Personal, hearing about such a place is like hearing about heaven. As new modifications are made to create more sub-sub-genres of indie music with the hope of avoiding mainstream absorption — a tactic that might result in ghettoization in a few years as listeners further embrace rootlessness and continue to abandon styles on a whim — those who remember the glorious days of indie rock’s beginnings might find refuge and joy in Rejoicer.
Slowly but surely, but as if on a carefully calibrated cultural schedule, the aesthetics of guitar-driven 1990s indie rock have been coming back into style, gradually supplanting the 80s revivalism that dominated the past decade. This is great news if you grew up on this sort of thing, and even better if you've come to the point that you'd rather have your ears drilled than hear another new band that could be described as "angular. " Grooms, a New York City-based trio previously known as the Muggabears, have been ahead of this curve for some time now, playing arty, Sonic Youth-derived rock music for several years to modest blog acclaim.