Released: February 19, 2016
Label: Sub Pop
Countless hours of procrastination-infused YouTube binges in college lead me down some peculiar trails of videos. Yet, above all of the whirling nonsense absorbed by our wandering brains, even the most minute of memories can surface given the faintest spark. Enter So Pitted, a punk/noise rock outfit. Sure enough, the coveted Internet fifteen minutes of fame that supervened a young surfer was plenty enough inspiration for the Seattle trio to name their band after said beach dweller’s gnarly catch phrase. So Pitted as an ideology is the encapsulation of fully committing to a task at hand. In the noble surfer’s narrative, this means riding a wave head-on, fully comprehending the risk and reward as a result. neo is “so pitted” in context to the record’s anything goes vibe, substantiated by swirling distortion of guitars intertwined with lead vocalist Nathan Rodriguez’s spouting screams. If freedom from the confines of what a genre of music should sound like were any barrier, So Pitted are zealous to shatter this depiction of their sound, much less their lifestyle.
neo launches into the barrel with a full head of steam, “cat scratch” being the first impression. With Nathan Rodriguez and Jeannine Koewler perfectly syncopated in complementing guitars, the record bursts with grueling waves of fury. Koewler utilizes fuzzy soundscapes with her trusty bass amp feeding the guitar riffs, and that combined with Andrewoid T Virius carefully and technically punching forward with carrying drums, it’s a brilliant spectacle to behold the magnitude of volume that So Pitted churns as a collective. “pay attention to me” hearkens to Bleach ties, beginning in its familiar noise driven panic, yet the track halts to a straight up nasty breakdown of sludge as it sifts out. As a product of Sub Pop’s roster, the insignia of Nirvana inspiration perhaps unfairly follows the band around, but to possess the label is by no means a bad thing. Considering the power and strength of the record label’s glory days, it’s both a wonder and a blessing that So Pitted has been given the opportunity to showcase their talent in the noise rock world to a greater audience. The band members have revealed internally as well an affinity for all things alternative rock. The mucky guitar exemplifies the band’s versatility given the fast-paced punk rock tendencies, but above all, showcases the technical chops of all three band members in riveting chemistry.
Amidst Nathan Rodriguez’s passionate wails on neo’s most urgent numbers, he is also capable of exemplifying versatility in his delivery. On many tracks, accompanied by background vocals from the other two band members, Rodriguez carefully enunciates in a robotic tone chants of eerie diction. “woe” is the first track to use this form of vocal delivery, but as seen too on other highlights such as “trust nobody” or “feed me”, the chanting combined with guitar buildup uses it’s stewing nature as a weapon. As these songs progress, the instrumentation becomes a growing force, building gradually from the calm introduction to a brash and convincing climax of clashing cymbals and feedback-laden guitar. Even so, the comedown is equally as brutal, calling a return to a new beginning, where So Pitted are raring to start the entire journey all over again on the next track.
The meat of the record is So Pitted in their element; a noticeable sound and camaraderie has always been present, but is now fully instilled to listening ears. Above all else, these three are tearing it up, and having a blast in the process. Punk rock to a certain degree has often been a fight concerning a set of beliefs, but is always a celebration of the like-minded presence of those willing and able to create something special. So Pitted are a noisy bunch, but the trio possesses great substance and melody in the guitars and bubbly drums. “rot in hell” is as fun as the surfing youth that the band is channeling in their name, achieving a fuzzy bass atmosphere that would make Death From Above 1979 jealous. Likewise, people should start to take notice of the revolution stirring among the Sub Pop faithful. neo is a wild trip full of emotion and raw energy, as immediate and glorious as its ancestor influences heard on record. Drop in, smack the lip, drop down, ride the barrel, and get pitted!