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Engine Takes to Water (Quarterstick Records)
June of '44
By Bob Bahr
The post-Rodan projects coming out of Louisville (with input from Chicago and New York) may very well mark the new direction of underground rock and what shapes the underground eventually shapes the mainstream. In other words, the experimental, beautiful noise of Rodan might take its place in rock history someday.
Across the nation, scenesters sense this; Rodan and its newborn litter of projects are hallowed and hailed above anything else. The problem is that these side projects, such as June of '44, aren't really that great.
It would be truly surprising if any of the members of the defunct Rodan did something that completely sucked. Their intellect and creativity almost prohibit that. But consider Engine Takes to Water, a rangy record that puts guitar and drums above vocals and groove. Nearly devoid of pop melodies (save "June Miller"), the disc is the sound of two thought channels in gear at once—-spoken word discussions of sailing and relationships and essay-like psychological profiles run under music sometimes reminiscent of Rodan's terrible beauty.
The bloodline to Rodan is clear. You hear the wide dynamic range, odd guitar sounds, NY loft poetry and dark mood of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Muller's old group, but with less of the hypnotic repetition and more edginess, especially in the guitarwork. Mueller is always interesting to listen to and if Engine Takes to Water gets repeated spins, it will be for his ideas on guitar.
But Rodan, after repeated listenings, established an addiction in the listener. June of '44's less engaging personality lets, the listener return to the world, unscathed.