I’m all for complexity, shades of grey, and layers of nuance, but sometimes I enjoy finding a band that wears its influences so obviously. I feel it’s refreshing and honest in an industry that likes to obfuscate and create intrigue that really isn’t there. It allows the group to play music that interests them in hopes they can take those influences and do something interesting with them. Granted, many of these groups come across as hackneyed cover acts, but every once in a while, something of worth will emerge from the morass with something to say.
And I think Rocket 3 could be such a band. Calling Portland, OR home, this trio delivers a punchy, peppy brand of rock music that blends equal portions ‘60s girl group sweetness, ‘90s jangle-pop goodness, and ‘10s retro garage rock sensibilities. The impact of Dum Dum Girls, Veruca Salt, The Fastbacks, and The Sundays can be felt throughout Burn, as this 13-song record alternately buzzes, coos, and swaggers depending upon its mood.
Even with that description, the record isn’t at all schizophrenic, as Ramune Nagisetty (guitars & vocals), Drew Anymouse (drums), and Tony Guzman (bass) manage to hold the sounds firmly in the collective palm of their hands. Ramune has a delightful, airy voice that stands out in contrast to the driving tempos and guitar crunch dominating most tunes. I’m also impressed with the quality of the melodic progressions emanating from her guitar, as they start in familiar pop territory and get inverted and distended along the way. The rhythm section of Drew and Tony provide bright, strong textures, but without sounding rudimentary.
Burn loses its way a bit when the band literally dips into cover band territory by performing renditions of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (Velvet Underground) and “Only Shallow” (My Bloody Valentine). Sure, they’re good versions of those classic cuts, but they take me out of the pacing and flow the group created with its own music.
I like the swagger and energy of Rocket 3 - it’s never over-the-top, but instead captures a band making straightforward rock music with an outside-the-box mentality. Standout tracks like “Fate,” “Never Again,” “Ride,” and “We Believe” showcase the band’s ability to take retro sensibilities and update them with off-kilter styling. Thus, while the trio certainly isn’t cutting edge, they are making fun music inspired by bands that I like, and sometimes that’s exactly what I want and need to hear.