Eat Skull/Kurt Vile & The Violators/Wavves reviewed by Troy Brookins
Jun 8, 2009, 04:23
EAT SKULL Wild And Inside CD/LP KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS The Hunchback EP LP WAVVES Wavvves CD/LP
Lo-fi is back for better or worse. While the best of the first-wave offered a definite counter-punch to the intensity and volume of noise and grunge, there was a ton of shit produced under that hiss that folks fell head-over-heels for only to quickly lose interest and trade up for better. Bands like Guided by Voices and Pavement became immortal with an initial embrace of four-track fuzz and there are those like Wingtip Sloat and Fly Ashtray who found their contributions wind up in the discount bin. Those who prevailed evolved into something more tangible, allowing the strokes of pop undercurrent to surface while remaining relevant and influential.
Twenty years later and you can't throw a rock without hitting someone on the lo-fi tip. Bands like Times New Viking have already created a well-deserved buzz and there are those like Vivian Girls who seem to be getting too much attention for what they're giving, so it can be a difficult sea to navigate with all the over-hype generated by those who fall in love too easily.
Portland's Eat Skull is a restless bunch. The four-piece jumps from one quirk to the next while creating some undeniably catchy scratched-up pop along the way. Having shuffled off much of the murk that weighed down their debut, Wild and Inside is sure to change opinions with the instantly infectious summer blasts of “Stick to the Formula” and “Heaven's Stranger” as well as the rapid punches thrown by “Nuke Mecca” and “Killed by Rooms” that channel early-eighties punk. What comes in between holds its own as well with one song that's significantly different from the next while maintaining a cohesive flow from start to finish.Â Â
War on Drugs' guitarist Kurt Vile has been releasing some home-recorded psych-folk over the last couple of years and it hasn't gone unnoticed—Matador just snatched up Vile for a fall release. This year's Constant Hitmaker was awash in an inviting laidback haze that evoked the spirit of seventies AM radio without sounding derivative. It's the perfect reason to never leave the house. In contrast, Vile's work with The Violators kicks it up a few notches and let's homeboy get his rock on—balls out. Seriously, there are moments that veer into Blue Cheer territory and it feels good to have that familiar psychedelic explosion in your face. Six songs are not enough—make more!
Wavves are what the kids are shitting themselves over? Nathan Williams smokes a lot of pot, writes about goths and makes records in his bedroom and it sounds just like you would expect—fuzz-feedback-cymbal-la-la-la rinse and repeat. Even at just over two minutes some of the songs are painfully too long. There's just nothing appealing in a sound that's overcrowded with layers of fuzz and, with the exception of “Gun in the Sun,” a forced attempt to make it palatable by adding a little sweetness that sounds out of place. I don't know if Williams was going for disjointed, but he certainly succeeded. [Siltbreeze; Richie Records; Fat Possum]