Somewhere around the time The Blood Brothers decided that Queen was unequivocally cooler than Antioch Arrow, punk seemed to enter an artistic wilderness. A few luminaries–many them who had a dicey identification with the genre in the first place–have shown up, burned, and transformed, and I don’t blame anyone who moved on to styles of music with greater perceived potential. But if there’s a future for anything identified with punk rock in 2008, La Quiete certainly is a part of it.
Based in Italy, La Quiete have been piling up variations on what punk rock can be over the past five years. In its earliest incarnation, the band’s work was mostly screams and spasms; you could get lost in it, but the reasons to stay in there were slim. These days, La Quiete still nail down brain-terraforming surges of noise, but there’s an epic sense of songcraft lurking within its short songs thanks to the band being as commited to gorgeous epiphanies as it is to crushing intensity. La Quieta’s tour-de-force quality could be called predictable thanks to its committment to being loud and fast, but the band makes nearly every left-hand turn it can within its fevered songs, dropping the floor out as readily as it reduces everything to glass candy chimes.
Listening to them now, I’m reminded of other bands that made it out of the punk-will-eat-itself wilderness. Imagine if No Age had a slightly sharper palate, letting the jagged bits float a little higher and the intense parts of the vocals rend the walls, one foot planted a little deeper in despair and one hand reaching for the light instead of into the crowd. Both bands are minimal on one level, but they’re defined by a transcendent quality that I can’t pin down without talking about heaven or weather.
Granted, you might not necessarily need La Quiete in your life. However, if you’re still harboring a faith in punk rock as an evolving, vital force, they kick off their U.S. tour in Salt Lake this Wednesday.