As fashionable music trends come and go, it’s good to know there are reliably noisy rock bands still doing their natty business here in Providence. Broadcaster has a refreshingly powerful sound that’s equal parts Built To Spill, Buffalo Tom and Sebadoh while touching upon almost every facet of the beautifully fractured tale of post-punk Americana. Anyone who has caught the half-dozen or so gigs they’ve played in the last year have been treated to shows sometimes wrought with equipment failure, horrible stage sound and apathetic audiences – but also brilliant moments of jagged pop perfection, shredded vocal cords and enough guitar pedals to give any gear geek a permanent you-know-what.
Guitarist and vocalist Chris McTernan has been steering Broadcaster since the days when they hailed from Worcester and were called Killing Pablo. From that band’s even noisier and more lo-fi template emerged a beautifully damaged sound that’s brimming with soaring guitar lines and choked with equal parts tremelo and rage. Broadcaster’s confessional, pop art songwriting seems heavily influenced by Silkworm and Gang of Four.
While listening the band’s laest release, Drunkard’s Walk (what a great title), those influences may stay hidden behind the more obvious Dinosaur Jr. ones, with bone rattling, speed rush sonics like “Choke,” a Hüsker Dü-paced firecracker with gorgeous shimmering chords and tempo change-ups topped by McTernan’s torn vocals. It’s a track that exemplifies the band’s sound: all guitar rush and blood flecks on the microphone.
“Waiting On” opens with cool, truncated guitar, the band again launching full throttle into a glittering frenzy of chord angst and drum fills that sound as if the kit is tumbling down a staircase. But the band isn’t all breakneck speed and mayhem. On album opener “Passerby,” and again on the title track, they easily settle into looser and lazier rhythms. “Drunkard’s Walk” shares more than a few discordant moments with some of Lou Barlow’s best, before breaking into a wide open and beautiful arrangement more artsy and angular than most while still remaining an immensely listenable track. This is a good record. Find it. Own it.
Broadcaster will never be accused of being a well-oiled and finely-tuned rock machine in the live sense, and the band seems unconcerned with changing this, seemingly reveling in the spirit of getting drunk and turning every show into a spectacle, brilliant or otherwise. “Let’s grab a few beers and rock out,” Chris says. “Sometimes we bash the songs out and I end up laying on my back with my amp on my chest and a tooth missing. It’s a bit less wild nowadays though. I’ve learned to balance the drink intake for proper rock inertia.”
The band, like so many before them, also suffers from Chronic Drummer Loss Syndrome, the first of which was Chris’ brother George (who fled to LA) and then Rainy Logan (whose knees started to suffer – presumably from having to play these songs). “Luckily our friends in the bands Gertrude Atherton and The Invisible Hours got us in touch with Jen MacPherson, who jumped in head first with a show at PVD Social Club in April and has been drumming for us ever since.” The band also said goodbye to founding member Moe Sherzai, rendering Broadcaster a power trio, although McTernan is hopeful to round out the lineup eventually. “At first I hated the idea, but there’s so few trios these days that it’s worth exploring, at least for a little bit.”