Back Amongst the Dirt
I hear rumors that the ’90s are “in” again. Things seem to run in roughly 20 year cycles. When I was a kid in the ’80s, we were all obsessed with the ’60s; now my teenager tells me how lucky I was to have been a teen in the ’90s. She’s not wrong. I fully support any and all forays into the depths of the music I first came alive to — the music of late night D&D, of rambunctious rides down the shore, of dirty clubs and dirty guitar riffs.
Flannel Season has, somehow, managed to channel these halcyon days into fresh new material that sounds like it was ripped straight from a missing second disc of the soundtrack to Clerks. The Iowa City three-piece, named as a deliberate shout out to grunge couture, hits hard and heavy on its first full-length, Back Amongst the Dirt.
While many tracks foreground the band’s obvious Alice In Chains influences, particularly “Wheels,” the album also incorporates more than a few hints of classic stoner rock, with echoes of Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu, such as on the melodic and trance-inducing “Piss Wizard” and “Bedlam.” Heavier punk influences are evident, too, on album opener “Centralia” and “Frenzied and Furious.” Back Amongst the Dirt is like a survey of the best the ’90s had to offer.
While all three members indulge in mic duties, trading off as appropriate, Flannel Season is at its most compelling with all three voices wrapping around each other, such as on the densely layered “Electric Hearts.” The drumming is a stand-out feature on these 13 tracks as well: aggressive and intricate, driving the band, yet willing to fall back when needed.
The centerpiece of the album is the three-part “Dust of Death.” The guitar, bass and drums do a wonderful job of talking to each other throughout this instrumental meandering, drawing the listener along on a rollicking ride reminiscent of both seminal stoner rock forefathers Pink Floyd and the modern psychedelia of Marshalltown’s Land of Blood and Sunshine.
It’s clear that Flannel Season is not content to remain mired in nostalgia. They are taking what worked best about grunge, dusting it off and finding its relevance as more than just a memory.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 208.