I'm sure there's a degree of nostalgia clouding my judgment, but Martha's Vineyard Ferries
are the kind of rock band that nonchalantly displays everything that's been wrong with indie rock over the last 15 years by showing how to do it right. The music is powerful yet subtle, lean yet satisfying. The trio features relative young gun Elisha Wiesner (of Kahoots
, and a Martha's Vineyard native) with a couple of indie-rock veterans who've always been models of good taste and peerless ethics—Chicago's Bob Weston (Shellac, Volcano Suns, Mission of Burma) and Portland's Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine, Pullman)—and together they create flinty, no-fuss rock tunes of remarkable economy, heft, and impact. As I wrote of the trio's 2010 debut, In the Pond
(Sickroom), the songs "recall the mid-80s heyday of Boston's underground rock scene, when groups like Volcano Suns (pre-Weston), Salem 66, the Neats, and Christmas juggled sharp humor, postpunk noise, and brooding melodies." The fantastic new seven-song record Mass. Grave
, released yesterday on Kiam Records
, the label run by singer-songwriter Jennifer O'Connor
, maintains the feel, whether spitting out the furious postpunk of "Wrist Full of Holes," which deftly employs a group chant of "hey" at the end of the chorus, or today's ultrahooky 12 O'Clock Track, "She's a Fucking Angel (From Fucking Heaven)," written and sung by Brokaw. He plays drums for the band, but took the lead on this tune, which he apparently wrote ten minutes after a giddy conversation with his fiance—rarely does a sugar-rush pop song sound so tough. Weston's trademark grinding bass is the group's anchor throughout, giving the music a serious weight without pulling it under water.