Agitated Atmosphere: Broken Water - Wrought

Local Music, Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
03/06/2015
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Broken Water.

The great Broken Water/Hardly Art experiment largely failed, though I blame neither band nor label. It just wasn’t quite the match of aesthetic and timing that either desired - Broken Water, still a grimy and loud band that wears Olympia on its sleeve; Hardly Art, the perpetual sunrise over the Mt. Rainier, blocking out the gray and rain of the valleys and cities far below.But Broken Water did take a piece of Hardly Art with them upon their return to Night People. Wrought is a cleaner, clearer record than those that came before Tempest, though the rawness will never go away – and for that, Wrought is also a welcomed return to the land of the plucky underdog. Broken Water won’t be an indie darling for the simple fact that there’s too much realness to be dealt with to make any casual listener comfortable with long stretches of exposure.

Wrought is a balancing act – or more apt, the end of the first act – of Broken Water. “High-Lo” is lifted from the Tempest playbook; a tuned down but relentless song unable to decide whether it’s pop or rock, so it becomes both. “Wasted” is the primal force of Whet; the energy of a band trying to elbow its way into recognition in sea of humanity. The coastal dissonance of “1984” reminiscent of the longer compositions of Seaside and Sedmikrásky.

Yet as with any good first act, there are hints of what’s to come. “Choice” delivers the same shoegaze cool of “Normal Never Happened,” though its growing from the blister-and-pound of its predecessor to a more sophisticated static. “Set Free” is the homogeny of Broken Water’s past with the sludgy progression they’ve shown with each release, even in its latter Dinosaur Jr. haze.

Where Broken Water goes next is truly exciting. Wrought speaks to a band that has grown for its experiences and tribulations. When they find the right match between their aspirations and the goals of a likeminded label, it’ll be a fun second act indeed.

Justin Spicer is an editor and journalist who writes for Tiny Mix Tapes and Ad Hoc among others. You can find him on Twitter.

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