Are you aware of the punk, indie rock and hardcore scene that’s developing in downtown Bangor? No? You should be. Most weekends, there are bands playing stacked bills at the Central Gallery on Central Street, and one of the best of the bunch is They Called Me Legion, a duo hailing originally from Lee, comprised of guitarist and singer Zach Thompson and drummer Richie Russell.
You know how I know this band has something special going on? I sat down to give They Called Me Legion’s first proper album, “No Such Thing,” a listen this week, and within about 60 seconds of pressing play on the first song, “Clark Nova,” I had to do the audio equivalent of a double take. The energy and confidence that immediately came through was shocking. I’ve listened to a lot of young punk bands in my ten-plus years of writing about music in Maine, and few of them have grabbed me the way that They Called Me Legion has.
It’s worth noting, however, that TCML is only sort of a punk band — in attitude, sure, but there’s much more going on here. Vocally, Thompson has a kind of wounded anger that adds an emotional element to his screams. “Must Be Nice” has a 90s alt-rock vibe that’s extremely effective, “Two Little Wounds” edges on metal guitar riffage, while “Kansas City” is reminiscent of bands like The Gun Club or 16 Horsepower; I have no idea if that was intentional, but it certainly hits that dark, intense sweet spot. Stylistically, Thompson and Russell draw from a wide variety of sounds within the rock oeuvre — pop-punk, metal, electro, emo, alt-rock — and manage to make it all work. I wish the band had included lyrics online, because after a few listens to “No Such Thing” I might be most impressed by Thompson’s lyrics — they are clear, direct, heartfelt and intelligent, elevating an already impressive outing from one of the most exciting new bands in Maine.
Another exciting Maine rock duo, When Particles Collide, last month released a new EP, “Ecotone.” Well, technically, it’s an LP — Sasha Alcott and Chris Viner added recorded four new songs, and then released them as the A-side of a vinyl release called “Ecotone,” the B-side of which includes the songs from “This Town,” last year’s EP release. For our purposes here, we’re going to focus on those four new songs, each co-written with members of other bands WPC have toured and performed with over the years, which adds a unique flavor to each one — just slightly different from what WPC might normally have come up with.
Song number one, “Fight,” was written with Jen De La Osa and Henry Beguiristain of Boston band Aloud, and sails along on a jaunty, old school bass line, broken up only by some big guitar riffs from Ms. Alcott. “Burn,” written with Ringo Jones from Cincinnati band Mad Anthony, glistens like a 1980s girl rock anthem, while “Give Up Enough,” written with Isaac vander Schuur of The Hat Madder, offers up some of the best gang backup vocals WPC has had in a long history of gang backup vocals. Finally, “You’re My Home,” written with Nathan Zoob of Pittsburgh, is sung by Alcott and Viner together, and conjures some sort of Led Zeppelin-meets-Richard Thompson vibe that’s mesmerizing — and, having seen it performed live, I can attest to its power as a performed song. It was incredibly smart of Alcott and Viner to invite other musicians into their songwriting world; it adds new depth and energy to their work, and pushes them forward, rather than staying in one place.
When Particles Collide are currently touring across the country; they are playing shows in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky this week. They Called Me Legion will play this Saturday night at the Central Gallery in Bangor with Buddusky.