Album Review: Oddnote — Oddnote

Heavy, riff-laden power rock arguably first reared its head in the late 1960s, with the likes of Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin. But the 1970s the formula was refined further, in the form of Deep Purple and even Uriah Heep. And while the style has gone in an out of collective favor ever since, the audience for head-nodding riff rock has never gone away.

To the list of modern-day stone- (or stoner-) age progenitors of the form comes Oddnote. Nothing about the uber-heavy five-piece suggests the band’s origin: Nashville, of all places. There’s nary a whiff of southern rock flavor in Oddnote’s grooves. Even a few seconds’ listen to a track like “Money Comes, Moeny Goes,” the opening cut on Oddnote’s self-titled record, conjures metal images of a big stage, a monolithic wall of Marshall or Hi-Watt amplifiers, and rocking men strutting the stage as if they own the place.

And perhaps they do: these tunes are built around riffs, and as such they’re somewhat elemental, but the brutal tunes like “Life Plays on Life” ooze forth malevolently in a manner that would likely bring a smile to Tony Iommi’s lips. And the melodies are there too; like Black Sabbath, Oddnote understands that simply being metallic is never enough. The tunes must be strong, strong enough in fact to stick in listeners’ head (along with the tinnitus ringing) long after the song is over.

The disc does have one idiosyncratic misstep, a backwards-masked bit of sludge called “Peace of Mind.” Perhaps it’s an obscure in-joke related to a mythical unreleased Beatles track; perhaps not. Either way, it’s a waste of one minute and twenty seconds of the listener’s time.

That tune notwithstanding, the notes on Oddnote aren’t, in fact, very odd. What is odd is the band’s unduly compact way of delivering the songs. Quite a few of the disc’s fifteen tunes clock in well under two minutes., making the unsuspecting listener wonder if he or she has mistakenly stumbled into a Ramones or Minutemen record. But again, even a few seconds spent spinning Oddnote will dispense with such misconceptions.