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Blooming and Booming

I feel old. Young bands are listing “mid-aughts indie” as their influences — groups like Pavement, Guided By Voices, etc. The stuff that was new and cool when I was in my twenties is now establishment. I suppose I should be glad that music is still inspiring new bands like Eugene’s Groundblooms to pick up guitars. But to quote James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem: “I’m losing my edge, the kids are coming up from behind.”  

If I’m going to be the grey-haired dude at rock shows, Groundblooms are a band I’ll be seeing. The group, featuring brothers Max and Michael Knackstedt, has just released its debut album You’re A Free Spirit, and it’s a solid piece of artistry. 

Groundblooms want you to think they’re not as good as they are. Tempos lag, guitars dip slightly out of tune, the production, plain and unassuming, at times captures the sound of “a band in a room” — and other times, is awash in messy guitar-skronk.

You’re A Free Spirit is deceptively lo-fi, cloaking solid songwriting with a hook-filled “we-could-care-less” attitude. The songs often flirt precariously with mayhem, but they always pull out at the last second, seeking refuge in Michael Knackstedt’s rich and melancholy baritone. Lead track “Pidgin English” recalls Weezer or Pavement at their best — jingle-jangle guitars meet layers of noise, cascading and calamitous drums and a tune that would fit nicely on Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted or Weezer’s Pinkerton.

Someone who went to college in the ‘90s or mid-2000s might feel a little “heard this all before” about Groundblooms, but this is the sound of vintage college rock. Here’s hoping it never goes out of style and we continue to hear good things from a young and vital band with tons of potential.

Groundblooms play with Royal Blue 10 pm Saturday, June 9, at Luckey’s; $3.