Sun Nov 28
Doug Fir Lounge
830 E Burnside
It's been a year of moniker massacres for the People, er, Populist, um, Rabbit Fighter, wait, Golden Republic. The group made a name for itself at South by Southwest, then changed that name several times before it ultimately decided to go for the Golden. At this point, it looks like the Republic will stand, though its Astralwerks debut People offers a titular tribute to its original identity.
Much as it incorporated its earliest handle into its inaugural album, Golden Republic adds current trends and pioneering works into its sound, including a unique touch that differentiates its work from national trailblazers and their regional imitators. Mixing pre-existing products in an innovative way qualifies as inventive, regardless of how often the elements have emerged in other combinations and contexts. When Reese's earned kudos (not the granola kind) for mixing peanut butter and chocolate, it didn't matter that peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches already existed or that George Washington Carver had paved the alternately creamy and chunky path.
In recent musical history, bands have revived '80s-era keyboards, '70s-style glam rock and '60s psychedelic garage, but few have attempted all at once, especially without being derivative or overly deferential. Kansas City's Golden Republic retains the essential ingredients of each period--an arcade-like flurry of bleeps, a percussive pulse that occasionally slides into a discofied drumbeat, fuzzy feedback, cooing choruses--while swirling them into an unrecognizable form. Listeners might not instantly identify the dish, but they'll taste familiar flavors.
People starts with a swaggering stomp and ends with an ethereal acoustic number. Though they share little in terms of mood or pace, these catchy tunes both highlight harmonic backing vocals that create the illusion of choral magnitude. The Golden Republic establishes its distinct voice in these common threads between its stylistic experiments; ornate arrangements bolster all its melodies, succinct riffs keep its edge sharp. Its charismatic stage shows and painstakingly frazzled fashion statements exude rockstar cool, but fans of this engaging opening act shouldn't be intimidated. Remember, they're still just People.