Within the droning, distorted tones and an angsty alt-rock exterior lies the soul of a pop song recorded among good friends. In many ways, this is the very center of Plug’s EP Block Out the Sun; with an overall rock sound, the band puts together an album of noisy, riff-filled, meaningful tunes that never strays too far from a good hook.
“My dark secret is that I’m a sucker for a great pop song,” says singer/songwriter Fred Galpern. “My earliest experience of music was listening to ‘70s Top 40 radio, which my parents played all the time. The Bee Gees and doo-wop tunes were always present and at the time I wouldn’t have claimed them, but time has shown that stuff to have sunk in deep.”
Along with a collection of local players, Fred took many years worth of songs and finally brought them to sonic life. Block Out the Sun has a sound rooted in the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s rock of Fred’s youth, complete with Dinosaur Jr.-esque noise and grunge layered under melodic vocals.
“Over several sessions we recorded the basic tracks and then fine-tuned until we had something that we were proud of. We were lucky to have some good friends contribute. Jeff Robbins, from 123 Astronaut and Orbit, played some really cool guitar on the song Drown; and Paul ‘Pip’ Everett contributed background vocals to ‘Don’t Be Strong.’” Fred recalls, “Finally, a kind of magical, dream come true thing happened for the song ‘Even Everything.’ I had become casual online friends with a guy named Shawn Smith, one of my favorite singers from Seattle bands Brad, Pigeonhed, and tons of solo records. Shawn was kind enough to contribute vocals to ‘Even Everything’. Sadly, Shawn passed away earlier this year, so it’s bittersweet.”
The brief six songs on Block Out the Sun offer many different sides of Plug in a concise and honest way that only presents the true essence of the band without overloading songs just to fill space. The album is intentional and diverse, from slow burning, earnest ballads like “Sad” and “Even Everything” to energy filled rockers like “Dreaming” and “Don’t Be Strong”. What becomes apparent is that for Plug, the guitar solo is alive and well when it needs to be.
Plug is on the local record label 75 or Less and the live band features Karen Orsi on guitar; Mark Stone on bass; drummer Stu Powers; and Fred Galpern on vocals and guitar.