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SMUG

by Marni Davis

Plunge, I've been told, started their work together playing Zep tunes.  Little chance of mistaking them for a tribute band, though, as it's difficult to do a Jimmy Page impersonation when you've got a tuba in your lap.   I shit you not: "Communication Breakdown" on trombone, tuba, double bass and drums.  Trombone, having the highest register of the four instruments, would take the melody and all else would be bass and percussion groove.  Imagine hard rock music played by a low-end Dixieland jazz quartet.  Pretty brilliant.
    Mark McGrain, Plunge's trombonist and primary writer, has maintained the band's youthful rock feel, but his compositions on their debut record are mostly jazzy grooves, repetitive, trancey basslines and afro-funk drumming.  There's also a fair share of seemingly Sonic Youth inspired improvisational jams.  The two styles work surprisingly well together, probably because the general pitch is so low that funky bass can seamlessly morph into blatty drone.
    The interplay of light and heavy - Marcus Rojas' gracefully pachydermesque tuba playing alongside drummer Bob Moses' worldbeat meets avant jazz kit message is a total knock out.  "394" is particularly funky and "Dog" is noise rock pandemonium with Rojas' fat brass [actually McGrain's trombone] sound crammed through a rackful of effects.  McGrain wrote himself some catchy hooks and melodies which, on trombone, sound simultaneously earnest and hilarious.
    Warning: there are no Led Zeppelin covers here.  But reinterpretation of another band's work can only take you so far.  Plunge is playing their own version of heavy metal now, and it's a hoot.

 
 

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All content 1995 - 2011 Mark McGrain

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