Local Noise Pollution: Leafblower‘s Debut EP
Blowin’ leaves from the backyard, just to get the fuck by.
You know what I hate? Leaf blowers. I understand that there are occasions that leaves present a legitimate hazard and need to be cleared from steps and walkways, but also: fuck leaf blowers. Oh, you own property and can’t abide leaves accumulating in or around your yard? Pick up a rake or pay a local youth to pick up a rake and bag ‘em up, mulch ‘em, and use them as fertilizer. Better yet? Just let them be and let your water-intensive and eco-unfriendly yard become a more fertile space for natural processes to take place. Your HOA can kiss my grits. Leaf blowers are loud, noxious, and ruin my morning walks. Enough with them. If I want my life to be polluted by noise, which, given my otic proclivities, I do, I’ll turn to Leafblower, thank you very much.
Hailing from the City Too Busy to Hate but Not Too Busy to Gentrify Itself into Cop-Mobbed Oblivion, Leafblower is a new Atlanta band featuring members of Canopy. Given the band name and the album art for their debut EP, you could be forgiven for thinking this is bong-standard stoner metal. And I will forgive you, but only this once. Instead, Leafblower offer up a much headier toke of sludgy post-metal that recalls the moodier passages of Neurosis and Isis while invoking the dizzying intoxication of the perpetually underrated Rwake. It’s the band’s affinity for this last band that has me most excited.
Album opener “Tiger Blood Offering” begins with a classic post-metal passage, moving quickly from clean guitar strums into a rhythmically satisfying opening riff that then settles ever so nicely into the kind of slow and tortuous passage that Rwake, Kylesa, and Yob hone to perfection. Dual vocals add to the grim, hazy atmosphere, as we inch towards something resembling doom in the most tormented sense. This morphs, as it always does for these lunatics from Little Rock, into a twisted affair of heavier riffs, distorted vocals bellowed from the depths, and a palpable sense of pain and longing.
The murky density of this style of sludge requires expert work behind the boards, and Aaron Hendrickson (Standard Electric), Chris Melillo, and Alan Douches (West West Side Music) have given Leafblower the space, tone, and heft to showcase their song-writing acumen. These aren’t simple blues riffs cranked to 11. These are deceptively intricate and hypnotic songs that take their time circling around their central motifs until the listener is overcome with the trip into the darkest recesses of their minds. There are slight solos, as in “Light Dweller,” that add muddied flashes of muted brightness while filling out the band’s quasi-psychedelic sensibilities.
As an EP aficionado, I also applaud Leafblower’s feel for a shorter runtime and what you can do with 25 minutes. “Light Dweller” bleeds seamlessly into “Crocodile Tears,” creating a bridge for the listener to cross the smoke-choked chasm threatening them from below. There’s a synchronicity, a sense of cohesion, that I will always appreciate in shorter releases. Rather than a disconnected smattering of songs acting as an introduction, this debut EP is fully conceptualized. “Crocodile Tears,” though implying insincerity or falsity, is lighter but more grief-filled than its counterpart “Light Dweller.” The two middle tracks work in tandem to evoke a very real sense of anguish.
Album closer “Sorrow Pit,” an aptly named song that tells us precisely where we’re ending this journey, returns us to the southern-fried agony of Rwake and the haunting clean passages of Isis. The EP’s longest track, “Sorrow Pit” takes everything the EP’s first three tracks do and amplifies and embellishes it. Leafblower is more willing to keep its audience in its pit of despair, with fried and frayed clean vocals mounting their discontent over an extended post-metal passage before it all erupts into the album’s heaviest moment. It’s almost as if fellow locals Irreversible were on their mind as things begin to tower and topple towards an inevitably somber and morose end.
Ultimately, I hope to see Leafblower stick around and continue to grow. So rarely do local bands avail themselves so energetically and maturely on their debut EPs. The weight of expectations will surely be on their shoulders after this release, and I, for one, am eager to see what they can do.
If you’re local to Atlanta, you can see what the band is going to do this Saturday, May 13, just one day after the EP releases. Leafblower will be playing with Sadistic Ritual, Subdivisions, Beast Mode & Holy Wound to celebrate the second anniversary of Avondale’s Little Cottage Brewery, an adorable little space just across the street from an old apartment of mine. Metal? Good local beer? Sunshine? What more could anyone want. Go see ‘em!