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The uncredited final track on the Drowners’ debut CD, Gasoline, has a wonderfully morbid chorus. “I’ll meet you underwater,” sings lead vocalist Chuck Andrada. “We’ll do the dance of drowners.”
It’s no surprise when Andrada, also the chief lyricist for the Fairfax-based quartet, admits to an enthusiasm for David Lynch. Though the song sounds like a necrophilic come-on, it’s about “actually drowning…or just being really drunk,” he laughs. (The tune, like the band, is called “The Drowners”; listeners may draw their own conclusions.)
Many of Gasoline’s 13 tracks—which Andrada describes as “la-di-da la-la songs” with “weirder, stranger undertones”—are similarly ambiguous. The disc’s impenetrable lyrics frequently explore anxiety about women: thankfully, though, Andrada reveals that a track titled “Lorena’s Jewels” is not about Lorena Bobbit. “It’s about a weird relationship,” he says emphatically.
The band’s sound is described in its bio as “Urge Overkill and the Pixies crash a Beatles party,” but the reality is far less alarming. Andrada’s voice is strikingly similar to Graham Parker’s and, though they do thank John, Paul, George, and Ringo in their liner notes, the Drowners’ most obvious stylistic debt is to ’70s power pop. (Beatles references abound: Basehead’s Mike Ivey samples “Revolution 9” in “Become Naked,” while the phrase “dig a pony” crops up in “Want Don’t Want.”)
The band, which has only been together since late 1994, was nominated for Wammies in three categories last year. They lost in all three, Andrada laughingly recalls, twice to their pals in emmet swimming, with whom they were sharing a table at the ceremony. And once—inexplicably in the “Best New Artist” category—to longtime area favorite Al Petteway. Which presumably means they have a shot in the category next year.
Gasoline is available at area Tower Records and at Record Convergence and Surreal Sound & Vision in Fairfax. The Drowners open for emmet swimming March 2 at the 9:30 Club. CP