Super Tuesday: Future Tense

In the mid-90s, Dirt Merchants were one of many bands in the Boston indie/alternative scene. Contemporaries with bands like Mary Timony’s Helium and the Lemonheads, the band’s sound was grunge adjacent with a good amount of post-punk experimentalism mixed in. The group disbanded by 1997 when their Epic records debut, The Speed at Which You Speak was shelved due to “corporate reshuffling.” Vocalist/guitarist Maria Christopher went on to record and tour with 27 and guitarist Mike Malone pursued the roots-blues project Orb Mellon. Bassist, Alex Kisch, has largely been dormant since the 90s but during the pandemic, he began writing and recording in his home studio in New Jersey. This burst of creativity was monikered Super Tuesday.

His latest release is Future Tense. From the first notes of “I Know Their Names,” it is apparent that this is not Dirt Merchants. Kisch wears his influences on his sleeve and those influences are bands like Big Star, R.E.M., and the Replacements. The song’s jangly guitar riff over propulsive drums recalls Paul Westerberg and company while track’s like “Let ‘Em Down Easy” showcases a bluesier side of Super Tuesday’s sound reminiscent of The Globe Sessions-era Sheryl Crow. “In My Head” has a R.E.M. “Swan Swan H” quality to it. A hammer-on-filled acoustic guitar riff is joined by simple but effective boom-bap drum beat to create one of the most pleasing songs instrumentally on the album.

While instrumentally great, the more stripped down tracks illuminate one of the album’s weaker points: the vocals. While Kisch clearly has an ear for pop and the musical chops, he doesn’t always have the vocal range to back it up. On the majority of the tracks, the full band arrangements mask any vocal shortcomings but the shortcomings are there for sure.

Rating: 5.3/10

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