Enumclaw’s drummer is missing. It’s 4:00p.m.; I’ve been with him and two other members of the band for roughly six minutes, walking towards the Supreme store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to meet up with one of their friends. But now guitarist Nathan Cornell points out that Ladaniel Gipson isn’t with us anymore. (He’s not dead, but the band’s annoyed looks could kill.) They text the most recent number they have for him. Brace-faced bassist Eli Edwards gets a response back, saying he has the wrong number. Weird prank. Edwards facetimes Gipson, only to be greeted by a Wilford Brimley-ass grandfather type who says he doesn’t know who they are, and “to leave him alone” before immediately hanging up. They laugh. “LD goes missing all the time,” says lead singer, guitarist, and cheeky loudmouth Aramis Johnson, his Ned Flanders mustache rising above a wide smile.
It’s my first hint that I’m going to be playing catch up with Enumclaw, the rising stars of Pacific Northwest indie rock, for the rest of the day.
So much guitar music has become self-aware to a fault, leaning into technical bombast in order to seem interesting. (You know, like Black Midi and their fellow U.K. cohorts, who I actually like—but I could also do without trying to cram another absurd jazz motif into a seven minute song). Enumclaw has crashed landed as an alternative; a reminder of the inherent power of proper hooks and not overthinking things. The collision happened quickly. Enumclaw formed three years ago in Tacoma, Washington; their 2021 demo, Jimbo, inspired immediate attention. A cocktail of fuzz pedals, Johnson’s absurdly nasal vocals, and an uncanny ability to layer multiple earworm melodies in each song, Jimbo is made even more impressive when you realize half the band had never played their instruments before this project (Johnson and Gipson were newbies to guitar and drums, respectively). A pained yelp of “It’s always too much / Or it’s never enough” forms the chorus of “Fast N All”; clear anguish in Johnson’s singing, so catchy you can’t help but shout along to it. Believe me, I’ve tried.