Bend roots-punk trio Bony Chanterelle has been scrapping around the Pacific Northwest and beyond for close to two years now. The brainchild of singer-songwriter and former Chinups guitarist Chris Fraser, the band was a highlight of the 2016 Bend Roots Revival with “a rocking set that sounded like Wilco from 20 years ago” — if you’ll forgive me for quoting myself.
Last month, the trio — Fraser on guitar and vocals, bassist Devrett Gupta and drummer Jake Satathite — released its debut album, “This Can’t End Now,” which delivers on the promise of that Roots set. (The band plays a release show May 25 at Spoken Moto.) Yes, Wilco is still an obvious touchstone, especially for the rock-solid rhythm section, but the band’s sound also bleeds into ’50s rockabilly swagger, ’70s punk attitude and garage-rock abandon. The resulting nine-song set showcases a band well on its way to finding a unique voice.
Fraser’s songwriting is a key element to this. His knack for angular chord progressions and airy arpeggios lends a dark edge that elevates punchy rockers such as “Laundromat Snake Skins” and “Backseat Demons” — so much so that it’s a bit jarring when the band plays it relatively straight on “War,” nevertheless a fine tune.
Most of these songs fall into that punchy, in-and-out punk milieu, with some exceptions. Album opener “Youth” is the longest song here, but perhaps the hardest-rocking as well. The yearning, insistent “Highway 2,” in which Fraser delivers one of the strongest vocal hooks on the album, is an instant highlight; ditto “Arson,” a showcase for Gupta and Satathite’s shifting, insistent rhythms.
Bony Chanterelle album release show, with Matt Nice and The Derls: 8 p.m. May 25; free; Spoken Moto, 310 SW Industrial Way, Bend; bit.ly/bbbonychanterelle or 541-306-6689.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin