Aseethe, New Standards Men, Bob Bucko Jr.
Trumpet Blossom Cafe — Friday, Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Denver, Colorado-based band New Standards Men have strong ties to Iowa City’s fractally enmeshed music scene. Guitarist Jeremy Brashaw worked for several years at the Record Collector in Iowa City, overlapping in that job with Luke Tweedy, who went on to found Flat Black Studios, where New Standards Men’s latest album, People Wonder, was recorded. And guesting on the album are local Phil Maul on keyboards and prolific Dubuque musician Bob Bucko, Jr.
I assume that their performance at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe (Friday, Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m.; $7 cover) will be a homecoming and reunion of sorts, appearing alongside the aforementioned Bucko and local metal mavens Aseethe.
People Wonder is the most potent distillation of the New Standards Men aesthetic: No vocals and driving, riffy songs that take cues from 70s Krautrock minimalism and the meditative sludge of legendary stoner metal band Earth. The song title “Dunedin” nods towards the stark ’90s rock of New Zealand’s Bailter Space and recalls that band’s spacious sound.
The lock-groove riffs that anchor the songs are a framework for open-ended improvisation. Brashaw’s guitar solos are more textural than virtuosic; they don’t show off or demand attention. Rather, the sustained squalls of distortion float over the drums and bass like clouds. And even as Jonathan Lance Eagle’s drums hold down the groove, he’s continuously dropping in ghost snare notes and cymbal crashes. Drew Bissell’s bass lines stay close to the original riffs that drive the song, providing a solid, foundational grid.
Heraclitus famously said “No man steps in the same river twice,” and New Standards Men’s music gives you that feeling of water rushing past, infinitely changeable even as it faithfully follows the same path. They find a meditative energy in repetition where even the steady basslines are handmade with subtle variations one bar to the next.
They may reject the broad gestures and exhibitionism that are the mainstays of rock and roll, but they find a different kind of excitement that is both loud and subtle.