LP - Standard Edition Black Vinyl. Includes full album download voucher.
Check out the first 18 or so seconds of “Can I Ride”, the title track on the first release by Polvo, the two-guitar juggernaut that represented the other side of Chapel Hill indie rock (more on that in a moment). That two-note riff, and the guitar twang that follows, recalls the opening notes on another monster song: “The Sprawl”, a key track on Sonic Youth's epochal Daydream Nation, an album released in October 1988, less than two years before Polvo formed.
This compilation's nine tunes—the first seven from the Can I Ride double 7” EP (1990), the last two from the “Vibracobra” b/w “The Drill” 7” (1991) are not quite the sound of a torch being passed, but they were a sign that Sonic Youth's weird tunings, the hardcore punk and proto-indie rock on SST Records, and R.E.M.'s hazy rock (three big influences on this era of Polvo) were changing lives. Even back then, the impossibly catchy roar from Merge’s flagship act Superchunk was known to outsiders as the sound of Chapel Hill. But Polvo was something different from the same region.
While the band never cottoned to the “math rock” tag (and it’s hard to disagree with them), there is no question that there was a distinct “how can we make guitar rock sound different from all the other guitar rock” vibe going on in the mid-Atlantic, from Richmond (math rock’s true home, don’t @ me) to the North Carolina Triangle over to Louisville and down almost to Atlanta. (If the Mastodon dudes aren’t down with Polvo, I’ll eat your shoe.)
No, Polvo were their own brand of squall, not afraid of big hooks (“Leaf ”), odd tempos and textures (“Lull”) and rolling thunder (“Totemic”), and answers to the musical question, “What if the Feelies grew up on Dinosaur Jr.?” (“Tread on Me”). Indie rock? Not the 2022 kind. Math rock? Eh, not really. This was the sound of a new Southern rock, of a pre-internet guitar storm that looked at what came before and said, “What's next?”.
1. Can I Ride
5. Tread on Me
1. Teen Dream
2. Snake Fist Fighter
4. The Drill