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The Standard

There's not much that's standard about The Standard. They're another enjoyably warped and quirky indie rock outfit from that magical land that has produced so many enjoyably warped and quirky indie rock outfits, the great Pacific Northwest. The Standard's edgy art-pop variously recalls Lync, Satisfact, Built To Spill, and Death Cab For Cutie, as well as numerous other greats from outside the Washington/Oregon independent rock diaspora. The Portland quartet's expansive style ranges from tender, fractured ballads to fuzzed-out, angular rockers, from E6-style psychedelia to intelligent emo-inflected anxiety. The Standard is both arty and bluesy, cerebral and emotional, and their songs all have a rough, driving catchiness. Where did they come from and why haven't you heard of them? I don't know. All I can tell you is that they're damn good and their 2001 debut album is self-titled and produced by Jeff Saltzman (who also produced Stephen Malkmus's solo debut). That noble effort contains both the rousingly strangled "Static," and the spacey but propulsive "Queen and Subject," sounding vaguely New Wave. The former suggesting a manic, overcaffeinated Devo. "Palm Sunday" is a bit of a different animal, a pensive, inward-looking midtempo piece of rough guitar-pop. Touch and Go Records picked up The Standard for the 2002 release of August, their second album, which brings the sequenced synths to the forefront while maintaining a slower and more fragmented song structure throughout. A good example is the featured "A Year of Seconds."