by Pat Moran
Taking its name from the Japanese word for "treadmill," Roomrunner resuscitates the sound of '90s grunge. Battered Fender guitars churning squalls of feedback are present, as are two- and three-chord riffs. The riff is everything here, and Roomrunner's grimy seismic wall of noise carries all before it. Not so much revivalists as resurrectionists, even Roomrunner's bio - drummer of a well-regarded but defunct punk crew straps on a guitar to start a new noise band - recalls the arc from Nirvana to Foo Fighters. Roomrunner's archival sound is the problem. Nirvana transcended grunge with pop-smart songwriting and reveled in '80s art-rock roots that included the angular structures of Wire and the loud/soft/loud dynamics of The Pixies. Cobain and company aside, the bulk of grunge was self-limiting, combining the slashing squall of Northwest punks The Wipers at half-speed with early-'70s Vanilla Fudge-styled sludge, minus the luridly engaging psychedelia. Roomrunner goes off the grunge script a bit with funky time signatures and life-affirming lyrics, but the sound of Sea-Tac-without-the-smack is not enough. Grunge ground to a halt because it had nowhere to go, and Roomrunner doesn't bring enough to the ear-bleeding party to take it out of its cul-de-sac. With Yardwork, Speedy Ortiz, Serfs. $5. Jan. 4, 10 p.m. Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. 704-333-9799.