FOR THE PAST YEAR Old Growth has been a ghost. The no-frills rock trio that bridges the gap between Dead Moon and Crazy Horse entered their quiescent period with a mere whisper, a far cry from the tinnitus-flirting statement they made with 2008's Under the Sun. Last year brought a general sense of doom—cancer scares for loved ones, career relocations—that tailed the band, a feeling they couldn't prevent from seeping into their third full-length, Out of the Sand and Into the Streets.
It's a period of time that frontman John Magnifico refers to as a "frightening experience," where the band didn't quite dissolve, yet their future was bleak. Bassist Luke Clements had relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, while Magnifico and drummer Ben Muha sought to avoid musical atrophy and teamed with Cory Decaire to form Old Junior (their five-song debut is on the horizon).
"Luke somehow made time to come in for a quick recording session, which became Out of the Sand and Into the Streets," explains Magnifico, adding that the recording was "done on the fly and under much stress." It shows. The songs of Out of the Sand and Into the Streets rapidly unravel into spiraling noise and squealing feedback, a deliberate self-destruction that marvelously captures the fleeting nature of a sound so heavily steeped in energy and passion that the very concept of song structure is tossed to the wayside. Ominous as its title, "Bloody Knuckle Beach" feels doomed from its arduously heavy start, yet as Magnifico's voice kicks in the song's sludgy tempo steadies, revealing a heartfelt chorus neatly tucked beneath the noise. The tightly wound "Edge of the Sea" channels the fidgety energy of Hot Snakes, a truculent garage punk number that quickly fizzles out just north of the two-minute mark.
The songs that make up Out of the Sand are a true testament to Old Growth's ability to persevere, even when the situation is at its most dire. "We just write what comes out," says Magnifico. "It has been a rocky year for Old Growth, but the songs keep falling into our laps. Life sometimes forces you in a rut, but it's great to have a driving force to pull you out of it: songwriting, acting, touring, friendships... whatever gets you through it."