y first live encounter with the Lindsay one month ago was a life-affirming revelation. And if this relatively green quartet had come from anywhere else, this wouldn’t be a problem. But they don’t. They hang in my turf: Columbus, Ohio, a city with a musical output that has always been on the cusp (of what I’m not sure); so I’m torn as to how to approach their first recording, Dragged Out, through an outsider’s lens. It’s the absolute antithesis of the lo-fi, art-punk, gutter-n-grad school rock that’s churned out on a weekly basis here, but that may not mean much to anyone living outside the confines of the I-270 outer belt.
The beginning of the record doesn’t help matters. “Life Is Fair” and “Ready to Run” exhibit the band’s primary influences to the point of imitation, namely Pod-era Breeders and Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation. Blame can be laid upon their physical make-up: bassist Gretchen Tepper and guitarist John Olexovitch play a veritable Kim (Deal/Gordon) and Thurston, with his/her harmonies and steely-cum-sweet melancholy to match. This synchronicity of genders is bound to make most listeners pile on the obvious comparisons, especially when jutted against skewed histrionics, but any fan of modern rock can’t hold that against them.
While the aforementioned slanted skronk remains threaded throughout the album (albeit with more surprising and nuanced returns), it’s “Like the Back of the Hand” where the songs start becoming earnestly rapturous and playfully obscured by the group’s ragged-yet-buoyant pop. Like an accidental time-machine moving in reverse, the song gets logged in a vacuum connecting the Kinks to Crazy Horse, the Byrds to Black Sabbath, barely brushing against either. It’s a mission statement of sorts: the sound of the Lindsay wringing out a sponge soaked in decades of psychedelic cool with a nonchalance that suggests they have no binding relationship to the classics.
Soon after, it becomes apparent that Dragged Out is made from two heads; closer to the Bunnicula lupine-vampire variety than Jekyll and Hyde’s split personality. That is, every cute and cuddly moment on the record is countered with a sinister display that could easily suck the red from tomatoes. “Your Contemporaries,” for instance, is five minutes of eight miles high guitar prisms before it dissolves into a cesspool of string torture and reverb worthy of the most visceral noise sculptures, while “Abigail Folger” is a stuttered, mid-tempo jam that ends with an organic robot spitting foreign tongues and locomotive steam.
“Iranian Eyes,” the album’s stand-out, best exemplifies this duality. Though it’s the Lindsay’s obvious a-side, a traditional garage product of the highest Nugget’s standards, it is undercut by an all-join-in refrain (“All the same”) and a haze of layered shoegaze fuzz that brings the listener out of a retro state of mind and into a pleasurable post-millennial bliss. Really, modern life never felt so good.