Swan Island

The Centre Will Hold

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Quick: name a scrappy all-female indie rock band from the Pacific Northwest who named themselves after a local freeway exit. No, sorry, the answer we're going for this time is not Sleater-Kinney, but Swan Island, a new five-piece from Portland, OR. Luckily, the similarities largely stop there; though Sleater-Kinney are clearly an influence, they're far from the only ones on display. For example, "Flew the Coop," with its breathy, singsongy vocals and cyclical guitar pattern, sounds oddly like the prog-era experimentalists Slapp Happy, perhaps crossed with a hint of the Marine Girls' post-punk minimalism. More in keeping with current times, a jumpy, synth-inflected dance-rock vibe permeates a few tracks and singer Brisa Gonzalez's lyrics take post-9/11 anomie as their thematic starting point without falling into doctrinaire hectoring. Noisy, but with purpose and passion instead of mere aggression, The Centre Will Hold is an encouraging debut, but perhaps a bit too derivative of its sources to stand on its own.

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