I am absolutely thrilled by the bands hootin' and hollerin' and shakin' the fury woods of Washington State lately. And it's not the same old been-done garage rock you might expect. First there was Soledad Brothers' dirty Delta blues; then came Federation X's raw and explosive heavy metal blues-rock. And now we've got jump-up-and-down fun, R&B-drenched rock 'n' roll from the Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee (Phew! That's a mouthful!) a project led by the Northwest's renowned guitarist/producer Tim Kerr and singer Mike Carroll.
Still as you might have sensed from the political nature of the band name and second half of the album title alone it's not all just for kicks and giggles. "Our Schedule Is Change" reads the album's cover, above a closed red fist. Turn to the sleeve's liner notes inside to find a call to arms of sorts: "Begin everything now!" exclaims the heading. "Why are you here if you are not using your five senses to educate your every breath?!"
Surely with more reference to a political party than a keg party, The Party Platform is built not only on a powerful sound but also a strong, Nietzsche-like philosophy: Existence is not wrought by the perceptions of it, perhaps. Spewed forth, it seems, by the five senses, Total Sound Group exist on their own, whether or not it's heard. Think: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?" Ask the boys in Total Sound Group, and they'd likely say that regardless of whether anyone is there, it still makes a boom just like their music. "Integrity, soul and attitude help you burn bright/ Burn bright young lion/ And make a joyful noise," continue the liner notes.
And joyful noise they make indeed thoughtful, pounding and thumping noise. And the best part is, avoiding the bland, retro approach, the quintet's soulful sounds hit hard, with heartfelt intention. And by incorporating keyboards, horns, whistles, bells and yells, the roughed-up 10-song recording has a lot going on at once, adding a blasting funky edge. Although the Rolling Stones influence is plain when Carroll sings "Hello Satan/ I believe it's time to go" on the opener, "The Hard Sell," it's also a prominent influence throughout the album, with Stones-like swaggering rhythms and sneering Jaggeresque vocals. "Message With No Words" is, yes, an instrumental driven by the '60s-flavored Hammond and slap-happy beats, while the contagious "You're Too Much" highlights Carroll's graveled, slurred singing. The Party Platform's closing track, "Anymore Than I Do," rocks out with the most speed and energy, thanks to its intricately ear-tickling, gritty guitar playing, back-up shrieks and bouncy, contagious beats.
The liner notes also read that it's "better to have a definite philosophy that revolves and evolves proudly on your page than to have some proclaimed historian or critic or scenester write a definition for you (which they will do anyway)." Hey boys, take my words as perceptions you fell before I heard you.