Alta May

We as in Us

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Grunge and its fellow travelers having been consigned to the dustbin of short-term musical history by the time 2000 had come and gone, it was inevitable that, given the ham-handed Creeds of the world, other bands with a better way around things would also emerge. Starting with a rousing call-to-arms about the band members' own pasts ("we've seen it all before!"), Alta May plunges into the world of straight-up, no frills, full-on pop/punk/metal/indie cool with We as in Us, a smart, entertaining debut. By not making any concessions to the twists and turns of alternative music during the '90s, the trio is simultaneously out of sync with the early 21st century and perfectly distinct because of it. What might have been all too easily written off years before as second-rate stuff suddenly becomes fresh -- and sometimes that's all it takes! Part of the casual charm of We as in Us comes from the group participation -- everybody in the band takes lead vocals on at least three songs, and each has the right aura of pointed disaffection down pat, neither barking (too much) nor shrieking. Roper is the monster of the band by default, thanks to his balls-out riffs, a guitar hero for people sick of them much like obvious inspiration Buzz Osbourne -- check out the end of "Goodbye, Honey" for some kicks. PiƱa's chunky bass rumble is never far away, though, given the right heft in the mix, while Shavlik makes everything move pretty damn well. When the band allows a little more tuneful rambling, as on "Crown Yourself," there's almost a feeling of what MTV rock & roll circa 1993 should have been more like, hard-edged but with a memorable melody. Once or twice things drag a bit, more noise without purpose, but on balance, We as in Us makes for mighty fine listening.

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