Rhythm & Views


There are plenty of great alt-guitar bands out there today--Interpol, Modest Mouse and Trail of Dead among them--but not a lot of notable alt-guitar heroes in the tradition of, say, J Mascis. You know, the kind of six-stringer who plays with such unique intensity that you instantly recognize his trademark sound. Well, Imaad Wasif, singer/guitarist for alaska! might be the next Hammer of the Gods, with a style I can only characterize as a deadly mix of Robert Quine, The Edge and Mark Kozelek.

The rhythm section of Wasif's band alaska! provides a solid, fluid backdrop. Yet drummer Lesley Ishino (ex-Red Aunts) and bassist Russ Pollard (ex-Sebadoh) are less a metronome and more an epic canvas against which Wasif plays a sonic Pollack. Rescue Through Tomahawk is not an "experimental" album, however (though the last four minutes of the 10-minute "The Light" will bathe you in white noise). Instead, this is a passionate rock album that articulates a profound hunger for love, spiritual and physical. It's completely devoid of irony; every song aims for the human heart.

And the hooks! When Wasif digs into the sweeping outro of "Surrender," it's like discovering a big, fat gift on Christmas morning. And he's unafraid to wax poetic: I've no idea what "Follow the ragged star / The one that dies, leaves no mark" means, but it sounds beautiful and sad all at once--a hallmark of terrific music, I think.

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