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Salvation Army Drum Set

Portland punk duo redefines the concept of "concept album"

by | Dec 16, 2020

Salvation Army Drum Set
The Riddle of the Moth and the Flame
Worried Note Records 

As someone who asked for a CD copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall for his eighth-grade graduation present, I have a distorted expectation of what a “concept album” is supposed to be: epic in scope; steeped in scathing societal metaphors; marked by long, proggy displays of instrumental prowess. Since 2017, the Portland punk duo Salvation Army Drum Set has been defying such stereotypes. They’ve released a trilogy of short, homespun recordings that tell the story of Roland, a radio correspondent in the midst of an unexplained apocalypse. On the latest installment, The Riddle of the Moth and the Flame, guitarist Jon Gaither and drummer Ryan Clemens provide the most insight yet into their fantasy world, where powerful beings called The Thinkers do battle with an entity known as the Madame of Chaos, using riddles as their weaponry. In between expositional “Archeoglyphs,” the duo delivers rudimentary, lyrically sparse jams that provide a welcome contrast to all the sci-fi babble (e.g., “They soon became paradoxical pioneers of a new space-time mind”). Whether it’s the fuzzbox basher “Theories of Field and String” or the harmonica-flecked comedown “Coup of the Calm,” the vibe that connects is the sound of two guys cooped up in a home studio, having an absolute blast.

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