In an age when major bands’ albums are distributed on BitTorrent within hours of their release, actually buying a record can seem recklessly, even ludicrously, spendthrift. Unfortunately for you (but very fortunate indeed for Jarrod Bramson, Emily Madden and Sasha Landis), Solvents’ new album, Forgive Yr. Blood, won’t be on BitTorrent. You’re actually going to have to buy a copy, personally folded and stamped by frontman Bramson, and you’re going to be glad you did.
Solvents’ highly effective DRM is an undeserved obscurity outside the Pacific Northwest, reinforced by an obstinate refusal to leave the little town of Port Townsend, Washington and a commitment to tour for no more than three weeks at a time, as both Bramson and Madden have little girls waiting for them at home. Listening to the eight tracks on Forgive Yr. Blood, acoustically tinged with the echoes of the old eight-bedroom Victorian that serves as their home studio, it is easy to hear personal integrity manifest as musical integrity in a succession of heartfelt, individually crafted tracks that range from the unaffected folk of “It’s Alright Maisey” to the punk-tinged alt rock of “The Coastal Plain.”
The fusion of diverse influences is simple and raw, but charged and emotional for that very reason. Madden’s violin calls its hearer, siren-like, to a fineness of sentiment outside and above the appealing humanity of Bramson’s vocals, setting up a cathartic tension through which Landis’ drums drive inexorably. In a way, Forgive Yr. Blood is hard to listen to, like a Goya painting is hard to look at, or a Baudelaire poem is hard to read—it is hard because it connects us uncomfortably to our earthly and heavenly selves all at once and leaves its listener in that profound state of rootbound exaltation that lays bare the beauty of life’s inevitable courses. High or low, fast or slow, every second of this album had to happen and we are healed by the realization.
This is rock and roll as the high art it has always deserved to be. If you only buy one album this year (and if you’re under 30 you probably will), make it this one on November 30.
Score: 10 / 10
More on Solvents: http://www.myspace.com/thesolvents