Sometimes music is about a time and a place. A young garage-rock band coming out today, for example, will not get the same exposure as they would have received a decade ago riding on the coattails of the Strokes or the White Stripes. Today, they are just not part of the zeitgeist. Such is often a tragedy as deserving bands get overlooked and under-appreciated purely for being out of the right time.
For Sticky Digit, their right time and place would have been the west coast of the US in the early to mid 90s’. There, their mixture of Seattle grunge and Californian stoner rock would have fitted perfectly with the prevailing mood. In 2013, a time where music is less about a place, it doesn’t seem to fit in. In fact, given it’s twenty years past the time, there are certain words you can call ‘Sticky Digit’, their self-titled début album. An homage, if you’re being generous. Derivative, if you’re not.
The riff chugs along like the band are trying to emulate Kyuss (Josh Homme’s band before the other one) and lead singer Edgar Bird’s vocals croon and moan like he’s trying to be Eddie Vedder, but without the same quality as the Pearl Jam front man. And for a lot of this album, that is all that you get.
Many of the songs, opener One 2 Three 4 for example, never really gets going. It starts with a riff, continues on for about four minutes and then ends with anything ever really happening. Similar can be said about Bad Things or Your Tree. They aren’t bad tracks, but they are just a little short on creativity or ambition.
When the band do experiment a little, it often works. On Bothers Me they give the instruments a bit more room to breathe and it sounds much better than a lot of the vocal heavy parts. It shows Sticky Digit have top quality musical ability and are more than capable of putting a few sounds together. It also shows Bird is a better guitarist than singer. In fact, it seems that the vocals are holding the band back. They just don’t seem to be able to come up with the sounds to fit the words. That certainly seems the case on Oxygenoestrogen.
The highlight of the album is Don’t Wanna Know, a seven minute epic that comes five tracks in. It starts off at a slower pace than the rest of the fairly frenetic album. It slowly builds in power before a quick turn down a side alley of strange eastern horns, before returning to its original. It’s a psychedelic trip of a song you hope will point the way for the rest of the album. Unfortunately, that proves not to be the case and, after the instrumental interlude of Intro Venus, the drumming and generic riffing kicks back in.
‘Sticky Digit’ overall is an uninspiring, if not bad, album with flashes of quality overpowered by homogenous grunge/stoner rock. They may be a band in the wrong time and place, but that’s not why they won’t get masses of exposure and adulation; at least not on the basis of this album.