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THIRTY OUGHT SIX (Buy CDs by this artist)
Bosozuku (Candy-Ass) 1994
Hag Seed (Mute America) 1995

Portland, Oregon's Thirty Ought Six aren't post-punk innovators, they just do the genre proud. A power trio in the truest sense, this explosive unit has frequently (and aptly) been compared to both Hüsker Dü and Nirvana. On Bosozuku, bassist Sean Roberts' whisper-to-a-primal-scream singing ("Boy Wonder," "Tuckahoe") balances the emotion and power in the music. Guitarist David Blunk takes major responsibility for the rhythmic drive, while drummer Ryan Paravecchio fills the occasional din with offbeat jazz-inflected hits; Roberts favors bass chords.

Bosozuku suffers from an overdependence on instrumentals (four of twelve songs), a foible corrected on Hag Seed, which makes good use of Roberts' raw-boned lyrics and the highly charged music. Blunk takes over lead vocals for "Wheeler" and "Tourmaline" (a duet with soon-to-be-ex-Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk), and his gentler, subtler approach provides helpful contrast to Roberts' desperation.

[Denise Sheppard]