by Conor Rooney (@sold_for_scrap)
So Pitted is the type of band that’s very hard to pin down. If their name sounds familiar it’s probably because it’s borrowed from a 2010 YouTube video of the same name where a surfer oh-so-passionately describes riding the perfect wave. man. But as frontman Nathan Rodriguez explains, being perfect isn’t really within the So Pitted ethos. “We were attracted to that freedom of expression, not having to do things a certain way just because that’s the way things are done.” By way of the Pacific Northwest scene, So Pitted began as a collection of unusual friends from various backgrounds. When they finally formed into a group, their eccentricity and appreciation of expressive musical freedom naturally grew into this brazen strand of punk that they smeared all over this record. It’s this unique blend of noise, frustration and (above all) absolute rage that bleeds through heavily on their debut record Neo, out now via Sub Pop.
There was a phrase that kept popping into my head, and it’s that the whole record feels like sifting through swirling metallic sheets of sneering rage. The opener, ‘Cat Scratch’, embodies that perfectly. The track starts off with that relentless ferocity almost immediately, and features an abrasively thin tone coupled with some pummeling drums just behind. ‘Cat Scratch’ is bursting at the seams with scathing frustration and almost feels like it’s desperately trying to claw its way out whatever hell hole it came from. What I love about this song is its ugliness, and as an introduction into So Pitted as a whole, it sets just the right mood. Of course… that mood may actually be one of rebellion and alienation. I expect nothing less. Further into the record, the track ‘Woe’ caught my attention as one of the standouts. With cynical lyrics and an uncompromising appreciation for the art of feedback, So Pitted somehow managed to control and channel their energy into one of the dirtiest songs on the records. ‘Woe’ maintains this hypnotic undertone in that it features a monotone vocal delivery with sporadic bursts of those metallic shrills that I mentioned before.
Throughout Neo, I get this incredible sense of irritation and dissatisfaction. It’s almost like the whole album was purely an avenue for the band to express some deep seeded feelings. Of course, there were a few bands in Seattle back maybe 25 years ago that were known as the poster children for teenage angst, but I think So Pitted represents a modern and more matured version of that. ‘Get Out of My Room’ is an excellent example of this mindset. My favorite track on the record, it presents you with a minimal (danceable) backbeat contrasted with a wave of noise for one of the most angst-filled tracks on the album. Additionally, lyrics like “Somebody wants to kill you - trust nobody!” just ooze feelings of frustration and alienation.
I’ve been sitting with this album for awhile now, and I think when it’s all said and done, what we’re left with is a contender for one of the grittiest records of 2016. It’s early, I know, but think we’ll see that So Pitted’s jagged and raw sound will hold up nicely. This maybe isn’t a record for casual quiet enjoyment. In my experience, it should probably be played in the subway, dingy back alleys (yeah I’ve tried it) or really any decaying urban setting. By hey, I don’t control you. Do what you do. Neo is a no frills noise punk record for the outcasts, weirdoes and freaks. It’s ugly, simmering, abrasive, and doesn’t care at all about your opinion. Probably not even this one.