Naomi Punk is a Washington three-piece: two members from Seattle, one from Olympia. They play their guitars at growling volumes; the music is purposefully gross. Naturally, every mention of the band on the Internet is accompanied by a comparison to grunge, Nirvana, the “Seattle sound”, etc. While it’s lazy to automatically peg Naomi Punk as heir to its hometown scene, the band does fit that allocation sonically.
Their amateurish debut LP, The Feeling, was self-recorded through cassettes and a home computer, released on vinyl in 2010, and reissued recently on Captured Tracks. The instrumentation smothers Travis Coster’s vocals, a murky and unsettling effect. The sinister guitar leads on “Trashworld” are enhanced by this lo-fi isolation; the happy-go-lucky chorus of opener “Voodoo Trust” forms a wall of triumphant melodies. On the whole, The Feeling actually benefits from the sludgy production. It’s Naomi Punk’s undeveloped songwriting that inhibits the record.
Guitarist Neil Gregerson recycles chord progressions, the arrangements lack variation, and consequently, The Feeling grows monotonous and predictable. Of the album’s nine tracks, four follow this template: pounding chords during verses (think Ty Segall Band), then the aforementioned triumphant chorus that becomes less and less triumphant on repeat. Even after multiple listens, it’s difficult to distinguish a track such as “Burned Body” from “The Feeling”. The three instrumentals are cool—like Dinosaur Jr. played on an antique phonograph—but are nearly identical to one another. The repetition is frustrating.
Gregerson said that he saw a video of the band performing “Burned Body” in 2010 and was shocked by “how much more developed it is now that we’ve been playing it for two years.” This poses a question: What would The Feeling sound like if it were re-recorded now? Would it be less repetitious? Naomi Punk shows promise—and authentic grungy aesthetics—but this debut is the sound of a band at its earliest stages of evolution. It must grow.
Essential Tracks: “Trashworld”