Sometimes it seems that anything anywhere on the punk spectrum is solely an excuse for lazy, unaccomplished artists to hang their lack of ability on a theoretical coat hook. What is called "punk" (or, in recent years, "garage rock") is really just straight up rock n' roll - 4th wave Chuck Berry rifts, delivered ad nauseam. It's as interesting - and as threatening - as a rockabilly bar band on a Friday night, complete with devil locks and a beer gut.
"Garage" means a lot more than "classic rock.” It's an attitude, a stance, a "don't give a toss" two-fingers-in-the-air blend of speed, intensity and experimentalism that speaks to too many late nights, too much sun deprivation, too many hangovers, too much time breathing in harsh chemical fumes.
Garage rock is meant to be deranged, and while The White Stripes managed to inject some interesting arthouse conceptions, particularly regarding minimalism, graphic design and brand identity, the Garage Rock revolution of the early 2000s has, ultimately, done more harm than good.
That's about to change with the excellent debut from the fresh off of the hotplate garage rock power trio The Artysts!
No need to worry, though. Garage rock fanatics will find everything they love here, in spades - the Lux Interior-worthy snarling vocals, the white lightning guitars, anxiety-inducing baselines and pummeling drums. It's just not as pristine as garage rock revival bands like The Hives, The Vines, or many other bands beginning with the word ‘The.' And that's a good thing! How convincing is the caricature-like lunatic, when delivering perfectly polished, completely synced guitar solos? Those early 2000s garage rock records sound more like the work of civil engineers than moonshine-swilling B-movie fanatics.
Last, but not least, Madison's The Artyst's is doing a vital service for those who still believe in the revolutionary, democratic power of rock n' roll, by bringing in many non-proto-punk elements. Album opener "The Road" sounds like a psychedelic jungle with a Band Of Gypsies-meets-Tool prog baseline and growling analog synth, while "Asthma" could be a particularly drugged-up episode of "Soul Train,” complete with neon-painted Go Go Dancers. They even have breakdowns and tempo changes!
Trash by The Artysts', is one of the better messed up garage records I've heard in a minute, lending further evidence of the psychedelic revival. Maybe we'll have a REAL garage rock revival and not the corporate facsimile, this time around.
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