This is what the Black Lips hath wrought. The garage rock of much of the past two decades was about teenage kicks. In the parlance of the kids, it was punk 'n' roll, straightforward and unhinged blasts of three-chord rock. Now, it's slowed down, drugged-up, and lo-fi -- just like the Black Lips.
And the new debut record by the Austin threesome Woven Bones is no different. It's not bad by any means, but it might take fans of Horizontal Action (the now-defunct but essential Chicago-based garage/punk zine that spun off into Hozac Records) aesthetic by surprise.
Woven Bones is part of the new generation of garage rockers who aren't mining Nuggets for inspiration, but rather are mainlining Spacemen 3, the premier nodding-off drug rockers of the past 30 years. With just nine songs in 26 quick minutes, Woven Bones fairly successfully creates a hypnotic vibe, mostly thanks to the stand-up drummer's reliance on his rolling tom-tom and a persistent chugging from the bassist. These guys don't have time for flourishes and fills; they know such distractions could break the music's spell on the listener.
A lot of bands are drenching their sound in reverb in 2010, but Woven Bones are drowning theirs in the echo-ey effect. Lest you think these kids are latter-day hippies, know that the singer sings in a monotone but pitch-perfect punk rock snarl.
The problem -- and it's someone mitigated by the brief length of the record -- is the material. These aren't songs that are gonna stick with you after the record ends. The lyrics are unintelligible, and while that isn't always a problem with this kind of atmospheric rock, it sort of hurts Woven Bones on this record just because the songs aren't that compelling.
It's a decent start for these guys. They've got the attitude and the right feel for this kind of music, and if bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Brian Jonestown Massacre have become too slick and pro for you, Woven Bones is a good place to go back to basics.
Deja vu: The Jesus and Mary Chain's first-ever band practice.
I'd rather listen to: Spacemen 3, of course.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
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