Having stumbled upon a few reviews of Tom Esch’s latest release recently, I had in my mind that he would be peddling a big, grunge driven, raw edged sound, veering either to the side of the big and bombastic rock sonics of the 90’s Seattle sound or to the scuzzy, musically belligerent, garage punkery that walked with it. But a common home town and a list of 90’s alt-influences does not define this artist, so why does it form the core of the reviews. Laziness I guess.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a retro, college rock vibe running through the song, what would later be called alt-rock though like the term indie before it came to represent anything but an alternative to the mainstream and it is this more modern balance of outsiderism and accessibility that defines Esch’s music. Too clean limbed and contemporary to fit in to those rose-tinted revivalisms, and all the better for it, why look back when you can move forward? Rather than referencing 90’s alternative it is instead, the logical extension of it, cleaned up, smoothed out and perfect for the modern discerning rock music buyer.
I wondered if I were missing the point and checked out the e.p. Modern Devices which this track calls home and found it to be a rather varied and excellent gathering of contemporary rock. But this is anything but a backward glance, this is a forward step and a confident one at that.