The Shouting Matches

Grownass Man

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Grownass Man, the debut from longtime friends Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Phil Cook (Megafaun), and Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier), finds the indie folk heroes/steadfast Wisconsinites morphing into a surprisingly competent blues-rock trio. Far removed from the troglodyte roots rock of Kings of Leon and the slick, overdriven, R&B-kissed alt-rock of the Black Keys, the Shouting Matches seem to have no actual agenda other than spending the afternoon in the basement playing as loud as possible and then remembering to clear off the cans of beer from the tops of their amps before packing them in the van for the gig later. Vernon's ubiquitous falsetto, which made such an impact on Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, is all but vanquished on Grownass Man, appearing for only a few brief moments on the soulful, slow-burn closer "I Need a Change," and replaced elsewhere by a meaty, gritty croon that can go from stoic and pained to Stax-fueled howl in a matter of seconds. The band keeps things refreshingly simple, whether storming through the gates of hell, as is the case on the Physical Graffiti-era Led Zeppelin-kissed "Heaven Knows" (not a cover of Robert Plant's quasi-mystical 1988 stadium jam of the same name), or basking in the glow of the savior amidst the church organ-driven, gospel shuffle of "New Theme," and while they don't always land the punch square in the face (like a lot of blues instrumentals, the meandering "Three Dollar Bill" isn't half as fun to listen to as it probably was to play), they never miss their mark.

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