Garage/punk rock band, Green Tea Goblins intended their latest album Hand Hugs to be a combination of sounds from ‘60s rock bands like the Grateful Dead and The Kinks with punk bands like Black Flag and The Meat Puppets – a pretty twisted mixture I’d say. As of now, this western Pennsylvanian band is a duo and consists of Josh Lint on vocals, guitar, keys and drum programming and Caleb Belly on bass and backing vocals.
With the opening track “Hand Hugs” comes some pretty comical words – “Hand hugs / Like a dog butt on a rug / Hand hugs with my love.” The fuzzy, alt-rock slacker approach does indeed remind me of the Meat Puppets but also The Pixies as well. The highlight to this number I thought was the thick and searing guitar solo – nicely done! The next number, the same name as the band, is another comical psych free form song that pokes fun at what this duo likes to do – drink tea – Arizona brand specifically. Again, another crazy good psychedelic guitar solo.
I can only describe “Hibi” as something on the level of Grateful Dead meets Iron Butterfly meets the Meat Puppets. The longest tune on the album is “Feel This Paint” and it really had some hard knock out guitar playing with some really trippy sounding vocals. The lyrics suggest feeling the hate and pain when someone you love might be in love with someone else. “Talentless Freak” features clean guitar and vocal with drums and then distortion dropping in heavy with a head banging groove. This song is perhaps the quintessential anthem for everyone who is going through teenage angst right now, or everyone who remembers how sucky teenage life can get.
“Pain Head” begins with some really good keyboard sounds, part ambient, part horror movie soundtrack and then, boom! – a heavy, slow-thrashing beat. This one had a Pink Floyd feel but minus the cleaner sounding guitar work of David Gilmour. “The Park is Cool” rumbles along so damn good with its heavy floor tom beats and gritty, sleazy guitar that I’m reminded of earlier KISS or the funnier side of Spinal Tap, which was all the time funny. This was one of my favorites. “I Am Such a Baby” feels bright, heavy and thrashy all in one song, like early Nirvana meets old school punk.
“Little Green Guzzlers” features some experimental guitar sounds in the beginning and then a heavy beat and sinister guitar riff drops in, which in my opinion can only be listened to cranked up! The lyrics don’t have anything real hard to figure out except that it’s a song about a lot of drinking and guzzling. GWAR comes to mind when I heard this one, or perhaps a B-side to some Motörhead single –maybe you’ll agree. The next track, “Buck Six” has more steady and catchy guitar rhythms and also features some pretty spacey keyboard sounds that I liked and thought fit this song well. Buck six could be referring to $1.06 and the line “To take a trip” could be, well, you know – but that’s just a guess.
“The Song Basement” begins with tinkling keys that made me think of one of those jewelry boxes that has one of those music things you wind up. There is a psyched-out fuzz guitar solo in there somewhere and the song is indeed a trip. Not sure what the words are getting at, but I came away thinking that maybe the Green Tea Goblins wanted to make music that simulated what it’s like to be on LSD or having a deep crush on a girl who is “awkwardly adorable…” again, another guess.
The band’s last tune “Overproduced Conformist Track” starts in with layered guitar feedback and thick, syrupy bass lines. You can faintly hear some drumming begin to count a beat (sort of), on the h-hat or ride cymbal but as a drummer myself, heck…I’d sit this one out. This tune was by far the freest form, acid-jazz, non-conformist song on the album, but it shows how outside-the-lines this duo can get, and I admire that. The Green Tea Goblins’ Hand Hugs is an eclectic mix of trippy, psych rock with glimpses of comedic slacker-sludge punk flavors and other quirky U-turns – sure to be an acquired taste for discerning listeners everywhere.
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