Come’s first release begins with the heroin lullaby “Submerge”: “Now we sink so softly / Now we sink so deeply,” croons singer Thalia Zedek. It’s the beginning of a descent into a somewhat unpleasant but for the most part compelling netherworld of druggy and unrelenting blues rock. Zedek’s the singer who leavened some of Live Skull’s later records; in Come she’s got a much better backing band, one that, in stark contrast to both uninteresting noise outfits like Live Skull and our reigning Seattle grunge gods, leaves loud fast rules alone in favor in good old-fashioned prepunk texture and dynamics, and good for them. It doesn’t always work, of course: I’m pretty profoundly uninterested in a few of the songs on the debut Eleven: Eleven, particularly boring workouts like “Dead Molly”; other times, like on the slowly picked guitar chords on “Brand New Vein,” the songs just sound derivative and boring, rather than giddy and celebratory. (That song really suffers in comparison to the band’s raucous cover of the Stones’ “I Got the Blues.”) But what Come are good at–great at, actually–is turning the burnished, blood-streaked slide guitar played by Keith Richards in the late 60s and early 70s into a sound that approximates the awe-inspiring, if slightly revolting, sight of a newly opened and freely flowing wound. The highlight is the furious “Off to One Side,” which begins with three minutes of gorgeously recorded slide ‘n’ feedback before swinging into as vicious a guitar track as I’ve head recently. Holding everything together is Zedek’s howling, sharp voice: it’s the sound of incredulity in the face of enormity, a hoarse and violent instrument wailing about alienation and marginalization. Those are subjects dear to the heart of a type of music that doesn’t get talked about much around groups like Come. That fact gives the closing “I Got the Blues” just the right amount of ironic pathos. A weird art band from San Francisco called Caroliner and Washington D.C.’s Severim open the Lounge Ax show; Come is also doing a free in-store performance at 3 PM Saturday at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve Gullick.