The label name associated with Potty Mouth’s fine debut is even more apt than the record’s title. It’s as if your first college music crush was along the lines of the pinched, yearning vox, wildly off-the-rails 27-second guitar solos, and university town back porch beer-drinking melodies of Dinosaur Jr., Squirrel Bait, and those great, raggedy Minneapolis bands you already thought were starting to lose it by 1987. While not exactly as heavy as any of those lights, and gulping down just a few Clinton-era Gummy (Huggy?) Bears shaped like the poppier riot grrrls, this Northhampton, MA, four-piece knocks out their chosen vintage-alt sound like they’ve been at it for years. Hell Bent is one of those debuts whose effortlessly-evoked sound kind of shocks you. Potty Mouth probably first slipped on the garage grease left from Grass Widow or Vivian Girls, but have ventured out of the car port without those bands’ mufflers. Hence let us sit these young ladies on the hood of a Zipcar stuffed with Sharkmuffin, Bleached, and Summer Girlfriends, with some What’s Your Rupture? CD comps rattling around in the trunk.
Singer Abby Weems exudes a wiser-than-her-years heft, though the uncertainty that cracks out of the higher notes hints that she’s still learning. Like in “Wishlist,” where she defiantly tells the crabby “This town sucks” sisters of her circle that, “You want your wishes, well you gotta work for it, bitches!” Then implores of those same pals, “But for now, please stick around.” Or in “The Spins,” a testament to that aforementioned back-porch imbibing, where Harris says, “It’s hard to say no/cuz you think it’ll be okay/’til you’re lying on the floor.”
It’s that college town conundrum of knowing it was the dull town itself that has afforded you the lifestyle to fuel the motivation to maybe ditch it. That tends to cause anxiety, and most of Potty Mouth’s peers would probably just gobble down the Zoloft and crank the reverb knob. Here’s to a slowly bubbling band of bands who prefer to leave the slogging, gauzy filament that’s covered garagey indie rock for too long in the rearview mirror.