Monday, April 28, 2014
Thee Tsunamis - Delirium and Dark Waters EP on Magnetic South Records
A lot of garage and all of psychobilly can be traced straight back through to The Cramps. They are undeniably the root of that genre and singlehandedly brought together ideas about B-movies, hot rods, rolled up cuffs, serial killers, pin up girls and slimy ghouls thanks to Lux and Poison Ivy throwing equal parts into the same pot. All kitchy low life parts of society were equally important and given the same consideration. They would inspire not only a million bands who had been waiting for someone to put a name to it, bands like the Mummies or Deadbolt but also had others reconsidering the whole garage genre that's been reemerging in a big way. Thee Tsunamis are very much in love with those lowest common denominator elements and coming at this with guitars full of reverb, vocals on full echo and with a female perspective in this Bikini Girls with Machine Guns world.
"Haunted House" opens on Josie's bass line ripping into this one with some banging on a hollow cardboard box for toms and a scratchy blues guitar with the treble cranked all the way up in this B-movie rockabilly business. Plenty of echo on Betsy's's vocals and she's 'going to make you scream a little bit'. They're playing with spooky tropes of any greaser biker convoy with scrappy garage production. It's sanded down matte black for fun, dancing in the graveyard with a blacklight. The lyric about the 'light going out in the Haunted House' sounds like 'if this vans a rocking' advice. Boys go in and men come out - I get it, I don't think they're talking about a Haunted House.
"Down at the swamp" takes a warm tremolo with extra delay on top, bouncing away in the distance. That jangle is back a little darker with the shaker in effect. The narrator wants a huge dude and by that I mean tall. Guess who's in that swamp? Weird drum sounds bumping away, not so much adding to the rhythm but the sound of a large crate being beaten. Josie's squealing every verse in her snotty punk homage that says this vocal can be that fantasy, but we're not anything to be messed with. Singing to her girlfriends, explaining why she's fallen for the Swamp Thing. Shifting expectations in that man-centric comic nerd world.
B-side's "Spell Caster Lounge" has a groovy, distorted melody on this one, with a screamy harmony and heavier '60s psych sound. They have a real polish and focus on production, nailing those early garage rockabilly sounds adding a kind of Grass Widow harmony and Midnight Snaxx or Coathangers mischief gang mentality. "Psycho" gets into the serious treble reverb and Josie lets this one sail all the way back to it's roots, raw, up there in the middle of the splitting reverb. It's a great sound they've cultivated and I don't think there's nearly enough bands combining this high register static reverb jangle with a tight echo vocal, both in a similar range. Horror surf lyrics like: Your just like the son of sam / guess what? / I think you might be the one. A lot of interesting questions raised here about who that guy's girlfriend was, how private parts might be like haunted houses and why contemporary garage reverb doesn't have more female leads.
Get this on clear dark green vinyl from Magnetic South Records. Great interview from It's Psychedelic Baby magazine here.