After nearly six years, staple of the East Coast DIY indie scene Washer return with their new album “Improved Means To Deteriorated Ends.” The Philadelphia-Brooklyn based grunge duo of drummer Kieran McShane and guitarist Mike Quigley didn’t mean for it to take this long to release a follow up to the 2017 release “All Aboard,” but the world and the cosmic aligning of the universe had other plans.
In March of 2020, Washer was preparing a tour, and had formulated songs for a new album. As it did with everything, the pandemic shut down those aspirations and postponed a new release. Washer stayed busy during that time improving the album, nearly rewriting every song on the record, which only pushed its release date further back. In that time, those experiences seeped into the essence of this release.
Quigley (Left) and McShane (Right) Image via Washer
It’s time that defines this record. Quigley reflects on all the weeks, months and years that have drifted by him. He describes the effects that it has, such as creating a decomposing shell of a body, tattered by years of a hard living lifestyle. He also recalls all the faces that have cycled between strangers, acquaintances, friends and back again. This is while dealing with all the new inconvenient horrors in our modern lives that reveal themselves each day.
It feels like a deep lament to the reflection of oneself in the mirror behind a bar. Spewing out drunken regrets and nostalgic recollections to whoever is willing to hear them. It’s an account of those who live their lives engulfed in an indie scene. Eventually the ecstasy wears out, and most have to confront the brute of reality. Time twists and contorts things. People age, are forced to find real jobs society deems acceptable, and then abandon the carefree ways of their youth.
The somberness of this realization is reflected in the music itself. The songs “Answer To Hell” and “Blammo” are slower in pace and put the listener into a ponderous mood. Like staring into the glare of stop lights, and trying to decipher why things unfold the way they do. Quigley’s voice cracks and warbles as he sings out these blues.
But the songs, they don’t stay subdued. Like any great Washer song, they build until they become a swirling whirlwind of intense zealous energy. “King Insignificant” and “False Prize” do this. All that desolate energy burns an angry hole into Quigley’s soul until it blazes in a passionate eruption. As it flows out, Kieran matches the energy in tandem, like they’re soul bounded. This fervent shouting is where Quigley shines brightest.
Washer, on this release, doesn’t stray away from the sound they’ve had throughout their time as a band, but they try to add in some new elements. Kieran can be heard screaming along in the background, while Becca Ryskalczyk of Bethlehem Steel contributes vocals on a few tracks. Despite little change the songs are still invigorating.
Image via Washer
The stretch of songs from “The Waning Moon” to “Not Like You” on the front half of the record is a string of rippers that flow very well together, only broken up by a guitar harmonic resembling a clock bell’s chime. The songs traverse from jangly, western style riffs that can be found throughout Washer’s discography, to blown out gravely tones featured with “Grift On Repeat.” This song is accompanied by a feedback heavy, abrasive guitar solo that plays over a spoken word delivery. It then switches up to a chant of “I take my time and throw it away,” in the chorus, reflecting the common motif.
This high vitality is what defines Washer. Despite everything that would bring them down in life, they are still able to have a good time. Even though what may be considered the glory days of youth are fading, Washer can still enjoy and express themselves through music. Like on “Fail Big” singing the cynical line, “It’s clear, this year ain’t the first to get bad,” at the top of their lungs.
“Improved Means To Deteriorated Ends” is out now via Exploding In Sound Records. You can listen to it on the Washer Bandcamp and other streaming services. You can see what shows they are playing here.