J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Friday, October 16, 2009

Now Departing:
Finn Riggins - Vs. Wilderness

Finn Riggins
Vs. Wilderness
(Tender Loving Empire ; 2009)

There's something to be said for compact, layered rock and roll. Boise, Idaho's Finn Riggins, back with their second full length for Portland, Oregon's Tender Loving Empire, has created just that ideal type of album. In an age where bands are pounding you over your head for attention at all moments, a concise, unique record is all the more advantageous. With eleven tracks coming at 40 minutes, Vs. Wilderness is an album that should get Finn Riggins all the attention they deserve from listeners.

One of the more unique things about the album, and most releases by Tender Loving Empire, are the hand-made CD cases and in-house art designs that are eye-grabbing and unique. In a day when labels are moving away from physical product in general, it's nice to see a label that makes it worth it to track down their physical wares.

Vs. Wilderness is bookended by a set of instrumentals - "Rush of Animals (prelude)" and the closing "Rush of Animals," but in between is some hearty, mid-fi (if there is such a thing) rock that shakes and churns. First proper song, "Battle," surges with hypnotic, repetitive guitar lines and chorused vocals from the three band members. There are shifts in tempo, more instruments than you'd think three people could play at once and the undeniable urge to tap feet. The record never loses any of its energy or pace from there on. Even when it takes side trips for distorted keyboard driven funky romps ("Dali") or steel-drum melody inflected ballads ("Shaky"), the record keeps its energy firmly in hand.

Having seen the band live before, I can certainly attest to the energy carrying over to their performances, and this record is their best documentation of that fury yet. Finn Riggins is part of a dynamic, small-label indie-rock movement that continues to put out inventive, unique and passionate music - that goes for Tender Loving Empire as much as it does for all the countless other labels around the country producing music this engaging and exciting.

Rating: E(xcellent)

(Rating scale: A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y)

Judge For Yourself:

Finn Riggins - "Shaky"

Finn Riggins - "Wake"

Order Vs. Wilderness from Tender Loving Empire or download it at eMusic.

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