Album Review: Roomrunner – Ideal Cities




Besides the perfect flaky crabcake, Baltimore consistently breeds wayward and wonderful sounds, and an especially vibrant DIY punk scene. Several members of the postmortem Double Dagger and Dan Deacon Ensemble collaborator Denny Bowen have regrouped to form the wheezing Roomrunner, revving far ahead of other contemporaries to craft focused grunge-punk.

The group’s debut Ideal Cities taps into the artery that pumps the sanguine blood into otherwise austere environments — the communities that keep cities from graying completely. It’s undoubtedly a testament to mid-Atlantic temperaments of the neighboring nation’s capital, but the music itself is far from inert. Riffs crush and crash on top of each other, yet it’s missing the protective coat of grime that makes grunge often unaccessible to many.

The rallying cry of “take me away” from the album’s opener “Bait Car”, is only the beginning of Ideal Cities’ resonance. From here the basslines thicken, dissonance converges into thrashers that break just at the right point, like the single “Weird”. The static and wails of “Wojtek” complement the swaying grunge hum of “Bowlth”, and the loaded hook after hook of “Vaporize” will loop in your mind long after the song — and album’s– end.

Ideal Cities is undoubtedly reminiscent of In Utero-era Nirvana internalized with Bowen’s purring drawl. Where Roomrunner diverge from their contemporaries Pissed Jeans, METZ, and Milk Music, though, is that songs don’t just move you. They throttle your limbs in that way an on-site jet engine launch must reverberate every individual bone in your body.

But the need to thrash that Roomrunner induces is curiously not fueled by a typified grunge unsettlement, like the characteristic Nirvana catharsis release or Pearl Jam’s brooding numbers. It’s just loud-as-hell songs sharpening a new band’s aesthetic. This is grunge for grunge rock’s sake — no more, no less. And the result is damn near perfect.

Essential Tracks: “Vaporize”, “Bowlth”, and “Wojtek”