Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
One day, when you've got little to do, and you're in a city with extensive mass transportation, just get on and ride. It could be a bus, but preferably a subway train, something that takes you underground and something that occasionally pops you out of the ground for brief flashes of what you're beneath. For the most part, you're in a tube, scooting through an exhaust-filled tunnel, solemnly attempting to be no one of consequence, just a piece of invisible and silent mass. You make sure you're covered up. You make sure that your eye contact gets very little attention and you're just there to get somewhere else. It's known. What Brooklyn band Grooms music makes you want to do is to pack a couple meals, fill a thermos or a canister with enough to drink for a full day and do what you can to camouflage yourself so you aren't seen as too antagonistic or voyeur-ish and just marvel at the movements and the statements that come out of people without any effort at all. Actually look at their faces - stare at the faces shooting into the car and departing from it all in what they mostly hope is complete anonymity. They try to leave as little mark as possible, disrupting nothing that was already there or will be there after them. Who knows that they're up to though. They could be minutes or a few stops away from doing the worst things to another person or they could be stopping off somewhere to punish their bodies. Maybe they're just hungry or they need a new pair of shoes. On the other side of the coin are those going to surprise their love with flowers or lunch at work. They're going to try something new or they're merely engrossed in the new book they're reading. It could be anything and Grooms' debut album, "Rejoicer," is a hodge-podge of scrappy segments of frantic head work and blistering novellas of flighty emotions. Once you think you've settled into something, it expands and gets crunchier or it just flies completely off the handle. It has parts of old Jade Tree bands in its breakdowns and it has its weirdo freakout moments that pop up to provide numerous scenes from "Doolittle" or "Surfer Rosa." "Dreamsucker" feels like lead singer Travis Johnson is imitating a pair of chattering wind-up teeth on the top of an unlevel washing machine at the start and then we get to the part where we're flying through a tunnel of colors and sensations, cooling down and heating up, going through different parts of town and feeling parts of your body blow off. It feels like it should be a love story of some sort, with Johnson singing, "She exists/I've seen her do it," but it's a warped take on the whole thing. We feel like we're in the rapids or in a stinky, hotter than hell place with a bunch of feelings and a bunch of thoughts that we didn't sign up for.