Woolen Men

"Our hometown has been buried under an avalanche of condos and pointless businesses catering to the newly rich. Noise complaints shut down our shows and pull the plug on countless DIY venues. The places where we lived are being torn down… Music today is rendered powerless - white noise made in the echo chamber... So here it comes, some noise from the dustbin. The internet is a sham…” Thus spake Woolen Men.

I feel like the poignancy of such a statement cannot be understated. I was lucky enough to graduate from college a few years before the economic recession, and I’ve been lucky enough to recreate my work life around the modern landscape in which we live. But I see a lot of folks (too many of them being friends) who aren’t so lucky. It’s unclear if Woolen Men want to be the voice for the disenchanted, but Temporary Monument is at least attempting to speak to the lingering obstructions experienced by a generation.

When the album starts out, you can’t help but think “Clean Dreams” is a bit Parquet Courts-ish with a little more step-punk in it. Channeling a similar malaise, the track, which is subsequently the longest track on the album, points you squarely in the direction of where things are heading. When you hear Raf Spielman sing, “My friends are all tired, and it’s getting me so down…” you can tell he’s seeing the frightening scene of getting swallowed up by an urban environment with unclear expectations from an uncomfortably close distance. And the jammed out chaotic nature that unfolds musically backs this theory up.

“Life in Hell,” which is easily my favorite track on the album recalls the cowpunk style of early recordings from Social Distortion, Lucero, and Meat Puppets, while “Alien City” is old school punk in its short, but powerful, approach. It may seem hyperbolic to say, but the one of the most important tracks on the album is by far, “University,” which deals with the feeling of being overwhelmed by the behemoth that is the US university system and coming to the realization that maybe post-secondary education just isn’t for everyone – something that is almost taboo to say at times.

Billed as the last track for the A-side, “After the Flood” goes in a direction of toned down, electro-lounge postpunk. The song seems like a shock of self-actualization about one’s decisions and how to navigate this unnecessarily difficult treacherous landscape. Then you flip the album, and “The Dissolving Man” sends you into an instant dance craze with its Talking Heads-esque spunkiness. And title track “Temporary Monument” gains some lofty momentum as it hurdles towards a simpler time of bad decision making and enjoying the carefreeness of a younger self.

“Hard Revision,” the growling punk throwback standout of the B-side will have you moving your furniture in hopes of starting your own circle pit, while “On Cowardice” shows you the extremely personal side to gloomy, dusty punk with a tribute to the late great Spalding Gray. And as the album goes off after the reined in “Walking Out,” you get a feeling that the band has come to terms with the world in which we live in. But that doesn’t mean they’ll just sit back and throw their hands up and the seemingly inevitabilities of it all.

Yet another example of the folks at Woodsist knowing what they’re doing when it comes to the talent, Temporary Monument is available September 4th and can be picked up from the Woodsist store online. It’s an album that, regardless of your current situation, holds powerful connection and high amounts of relatable, if not at times uncomfortable, realities. And it’s hard to ask more out of an album than that. JS