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Struckout

The California band is possessed by noise and an interesting voice

Struckout is a wild mix of frantic vocals and noise. Photo credit: Joey Tobin

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I sometimes wonder where a person was when they were confronted with a musician's voice that didn't quite fit the mold of acceptability, and where they were when they realized that imperfection might actually be preferable. Growing up, I was inundated with songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, which typically reflected a standard of ideal pitch and tone that slowly got chipped away. Yes, I love the honeyed voices of Roy Orbison and Frankie Valli, but the opportunities began to appear when people like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie could balance a traditionally beautiful voice with one that could handle the more cragged elements of rock.

Time goes on, and suddenly there doesn't even need to be the supporting factor of a typically good voice. Frank Black, Isaac Brock, Wayne Coyne, Jonathan Richman, and countless other punk and New Wave vocalists proved that being an individual was sometimes more important than cutting an elegant frame as a frontman. As I've quoted many times, David Byrne said that "the better a singer's voice, the harder it is to believe what they're saying." This aspect of popular and alternative music gained traction in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when it suddenly became important to identify with a band's message; not having a teen idol voice made it easier to take these individualistic personalities at face value, and made their words, therefore, more impactful and resonant.

This Tuesday's show at Real Art features Struckout, which builds it foundation on a shaky floor of noise and uncommonly honest lyrics. The band is upfront in labeling itself as a spiritual predecessor of Modest Mouse. What Struckout accomplishes is the frantic, unadorned style that Modest Mouse used to have, in their early days, when Isaac Brock was used to yelping into the void. Struckout's blatant commitment to sharp noise and confessional yelling comes close to Modest Mouse's early output, though it lacks the wide-eyed wonder that made Brock's music so compelling.

Struckout's music is defined by an almost unbearable noise. There are moments of quiet, but the majority of the songs are defined by crashing cymbals, squealing guitars, and lead singer Daniel Speer wailing around everything. While Modest Mouse provided a place for a manic preacher to make his voice be known, Struckout almost seems to be fighting against its own lead singer, throwing guitar attacks after a person who only wants to get his voice out there. Some songs are designed to let Speer's lyrics get the forefront, as on "KEMF," when Speer asks, "Why does every dream-popper sound the same to me?" He ends the song with the shredding refrain of, "I wanna kill every motherf@#$%* with a guitar," and it feels almost as cathartic as Springsteen wanting tramps to run.

When you're confronted with a band like Struckout, or any number of bands that want to challenge the way you listen to music and tackle life, it becomes imperative to find a way of living that has been heretofore unavailable to you: these bands are confronting you, and you've got to find a way to respond. Are you going to shrivel in terror, or are you going to rally and find the strength to become something you never dreamed of? If music can bring out the best in you, then let it do so; singers with interesting voices can always be your in.

Struckout, w/ Dogbreth, Regress, Just, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7, cover TBA, Real Art Tacoma, 5412 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, realarttacoma.com

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