Full Disclosure: The members of Captain Algebra have no idea who I am or that I am writing this. But I feel like I owe them some exposure and I hope to explain why.
That’s a pretty safe and generic description, of course, and I’m sure plenty of people will read that and think, “Young guys who say they play punk. Right. Heard that before.” That was pretty much what I thought the first time I saw a poster for them.
I spend much of my time editing and reviewing my work at a local establishment in Chehalis, Washington called “The Matrix Coffeehouse” The Matrix is a locally-owned and family-run labor of love. In a cavernous warehouse space, for nearly two decades, a local family has run a combination coffeehouse, concert venue, art gallery, bookstore, and health-conscious restaurant. It is well-known throughout the independent music scene as a place musicians love to play, regardless of the size of the audience, because Moon, a co-owner and the sound engineer, treats each live show as if it was a studio session and does his best to milk the best sound possible for the audience to enjoy.
So one night, sometime last summer I believe it was, I went down to The Matrix to grab a cup of coffee and do some reviewing of my work. Either I didn’t know there was a show that night, or thought I was arriving before it started. Either way, I wasn’t expecting there to be music, let alone loud music.
So I wasn’t very happy when I heard it as I stood outside. Rather than go home in defeat, however, I resolved to sit in one of the soft couches as far away from the stage as possible, drink the excellent coffee, and work on my book.
My gut reaction to loud, distorted, music these days is to tune it out. I’m just not the grunge kid I once was.
But when I walked in and saw these three kids on the stage, I found myself bobbing my head to this dirty, wet, raw bass line and guitar riff. The singer was almost mumbling into the mic in a monotone, detached, way – like an ad-hoc slam poetry session. I thought I recognized the song as something from my younger days, maybe a cover of The Melvins or Grunttruck. It had that same wet, distorted feel to the guitar with a curious loose bass riff that almost, but not quite, felt like lead guitar.
I didn’t do any work that night. Instead, I stood by the counter, drinking coffee, and resisting the urge to bounce up and down like I did in my youth. Nobody wants to see a bald, thirty-something veteran with damaged knees and a bad back acting like he was in the mosh pit at a Mudhoney concert in 1993.
They were young and unpolished, but I could see potential. It wasn’t just some kids playing at being a punk band, these guys had that undefinable spark.
Now, let us move forward to this last weekend and why I feel I owe them something. I was in a writing funk and read on Facebook that Captain Algebra was playing down at The Matrix. I figured, if I’m not going to be productive, I can at least go listen to them and make sure they get a few bucks from me in appreciation. Well, they had improved quite a bit.
What they call punk, I would call true grunge. Grunge in that style from the mid-80s and early-90s. Green River, Mudhoney, Grunttruck, Bleach-era Nirvana, etc. That kind of music that is signified by very wet distortion on the guitar, throbbing bass lines, and a drum beat that makes you want to bang your head against something or someone – in a good way. It’s angry, angsty, and makes the heart pound.
Their set ended and I purchased their CD. $5 for a CD with the title hand-written on with a marker. I popped it in my CD player on the way home and bobbed my head. I got home, queued up their Reverbnation page, and went back to writing. I churned out a thousand words in an hour. Simply put, they pumped me up.
I also plan on using their music in my “dogfighting playlist” for the upcoming game Star Citizen. I love having angry music I can fly to when I am dogfighting, and this is the kind of music that works perfectly for that.
So, if you enjoy grunge, punk, or early alternative, I suggest you head on over to their Reverbnation page and give a listen. And if you like it, make sure to like their Facebook page and look for a live show nearby.