Besides the perfect flaky crabcake, Baltimore consistently breeds wayward and wonderful sounds, and an especially vibrant DIY punk scene. Several members of the postmortem Double Dagger and Dan Deacon Ensemble collaborator Denny Bowen have regrouped to form the wheezing Roomrunner, revving far ahead of other contemporaries to craft focused grunge-punk.
The groups debut Ideal Cities taps into the artery that pumps the sanguine blood into otherwise austere environments — the communities that keep cities from graying completely. Its undoubtedly a testament to mid-Atlantic temperaments of the neighboring nations capital, but the music itself is far from inert. Riffs crush and crash on top of each other, yet its missing the protective coat of grime that makes grunge often unaccessible to many.
The rallying cry of take me away from the albums opener Bait Car, is only the beginning of Ideal Cities resonance. From here the basslines thicken, dissonance converges into thrashers that break just at the right point, like the single Weird. The static and wails of Wojtek complement the swaying grunge hum of Bowlth, and the loaded hook after hook of Vaporize will loop in your mind long after the song — and album’s– end.
Ideal Cities is undoubtedly reminiscent of In Utero-era Nirvana internalized with Bowens purring drawl. Where Roomrunner diverge from their contemporaries Pissed Jeans, METZ, and Milk Music, though, is that songs dont just move you. They throttle your limbs in that way an on-site jet engine launch must reverberate every individual bone in your body.
But the need to thrash that Roomrunner induces is curiously not fueled by a typified grunge unsettlement, like the characteristic Nirvana catharsis release or Pearl Jams brooding numbers. Its just loud-as-hell songs sharpening a new bands aesthetic. This is grunge for grunge rocks sake — no more, no less. And the result is damn near perfect.
Essential Tracks: Vaporize, “Bowlth”, and Wojtek