Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Radar Eyes self titled full length on Hozac Records

Hozac generously sent this full length in from Radar Eyes the other day along with their latest batch of singles which was a landmark event for 7Inches. If I could have imagined so many years ago I might one day be graced with the latest releases from Horizontal Action, I would have called you a damn liar and then have gone so far as to feel bad because I know it would never come true. The real crime is that 7inches has a limited budget and as much as we want to purchase every release from Hozac's catalog, it's literally impossible...I fall prey to picking up a lot of stuff I already know about, or save it all for singles. The point is I appreciate it when I can truly spend time with stuff like this and become a fan of someone that might have fallen through the cracks for me, simply because I pressed a different 'add to cart' button.

I understand the importance of the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola but give me the solid thudding bass line under the hyper jangle Velvet Underground guitars of "Bear Bee", the first track on the B-side of this self titled album... that's really the defining sound for me. This contemporary iteration in the evolution of pop psych is better than that whole bunch. We all love those early records, they're classic and I've listened to them all half a million times. I'll always need to hear White Light White Heat, or Link Wray but Radar Eyes on this record are putting the two together in a close to perfect way. That isn't to say there's anything particularly groundbreaking... I just think that Anthony et al are able to piece together those references just right for a full album of balanced reverb'd guitars, hitting that sweet spot between the patience testing long jam and rolling groove. Here, the killer bass and fuzz driven rhythm is the force behind their palmed, scratchy rhythm of guitar, and it's referencing all the pop psych past while driving it straight ahead.

Overall there's a bouncing around, guitar reverb aesthetic on this record, with the genre defining tambourine and old organ grinding away. Energetically turning the waves of sound into a big dense the chorus guitar on "Prarie Puppies". They really pile on the layered Jesus and Mary Chain static from the distant distortion but you're still able to pick out hand packed single wavering, long strums. Radar keeps the melody forefront, it's after all brief pop with just enough fuzz and hiss in the guitar after all kinds of various distortions but punchy and pop is the goal, like on "Accident" which reminds me of the Fresh and Onlys brand of update to this sound. The pounding drone underneath, fleshing out a higher melody. Seeing that this was recorded and mixed by Anthony on lead guitar and vocals could be the most important liner note on the back spiral of lyrics and track titles. The band itself has complete control over this specific era, able to dial in exactly the right layers of dissonance. It's why Tim Cohen is the master of this kind of thing as well, you DIY all the way into that studio...not that they've even been a part of the lo-fi camp, just that you can be sure it isn't ever going to turn into King of the Beach or god forbid The Only Place.
The main thing is their frantic pounding rhythms that nod to the combination of shoegaze and psych repetition. Sudden drum changes and soaring notes working right through, while adding to the fog of sound and Anthony's massive cave echo in his vocal. "Secrets", the final track on the A-side, brings out a big fuzz bass foundation for this jangle electric... roughing out the framework for this thing. Atypically bassline driven with their particular static covering everything here especially the hissy percussion. Their rolling rhythm and slow mechanics in subtle electric picking builds on the primitive pop fuzz of the Vivian Girls....turning it into the long goodbye of the entire genre. Feedback's and solo's over the freight train and when it stops...all the high layers of effects come down to a single ringing bell.
There's a sort of nostalgia here that comes through even more on B-Side's "Disconnection", that golden age of a girl group tambourine band with laid back echo reverb from the Shangri-la's to the Ronettes. It's a sort of dread pop sound with clear dreamy vocals and a caveman tom heavy wail. Keep the tracks brief and melodic, bathed in haze. The more I hear them successfully picking up and carrying the psych torch, the more I realize they're even moving beyond their own early references and into something new.

This sleeve design seems to sum up this new school of garage psych, the paisley color pallet is muted with browns and blacks and hidden the flowery design is bottles of liquor and tiny rats.

Get this one from Hozac, it's one you'll keep coming back to and an impressive freaking first album.

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