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RATING: 5.7/10

EndAnd are a Brooklyn 3-piece playing music that lands on the brawnier side of pop. The press info tells me they do ‘Noise Rock/Punk/Power Pop’ that’s ‘disarmingly human’…welp, I’ll give ’em ‘power pop’. I wouldn’t say it sounds like the PIXIES – it’s not willfully dissonant in the way Black Frank & Co. could be, and definitely not as weird. Nor would I say it sounds like GUIDED BY VOICES – though the basement-rock-aspiring-to-arena-glory tone may be there, it’s too put-together, too polished. They definitely don’t sound, as the one-sheet would like me to believe – like the Melvins or Nirvana – who the hell writes these things?

Anyway, the release is split into two halves: “Adventures of HiFi in Space,” which are studio recordings, and “Adventures of LoFi in Space,” a collection of DIY recordings. HiFi comes first, and is comprised of 5 songs. At times, like on “Commando,” the guitar work is interesting, and it’s undeniable that the musicianship on this album is better than the average rock release at this point. Despite its billing as ‘uncompromising’, the album seems very middling. It refuses to move too far in any direction at all, which basically makes it ‘the average rock release.’ It’s tuneful, but not to the point of instantly memorable hooks. It’s muscular, but not to the point of exciting you, or tiring you. It’s noisy, but carefully hemmed in to retain the pop edge – certainly not enough to go up against even a band like Wavves. It’s a very careful balancing act, but by covering all bases at once, it fails to make an impression on any one of those bases.

Fortunately, LoFi fares a little better. Things are more interesting than HiFi almost immediately. The first seconds of “Dawl” introduce a smear of guitar before introducing a track which could legitimately be read as GBV. “Legend” is an acoustic number which follows an ‘unplugged’ type formula, but makes interesting use of tape loops, or hiss, or something, i dunno – point is, the weird bed of sound they lay down is cool. “Sweet” is a short pop track with some nice guitar lines, and “When and There” is a strummer which is fine enough, I guess, but it definitely goes on too long. On the whole, the LoFi half is significantly more redeemable than the HiFi half, but I wish this band would take more risks – the entire endeavor feels a little too safe for me. Given that they were billed as “Noise Rock” and compared to, of all people, Jay Reatard, I was hoping for a little more firepower. Pitchfork will probably like it.

LISTEN/NAME YOUR PRICE: EndAnd Bandcamp 

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RATING: 7/10

When Link Wray started poking holes in his speaker cones and otherwise abusing his amplifiers, he probably didn’t know how fuzz would become holy writ for most rock music to come. Brooklyn’s The Psyched are one devoted sect of followers – plying a brand of garage rock that’s so dirty, you’ll need a shower and a shave after this LP. The overall sound here – think a mid-tempo COACHWHIPS. OBLIVIANS comparisons are also fair, but there’s a slinkier, more psychedelic edge to the Psyched. Though the Oblivians never really go away, it seems like this year is a big revival in dirty-as-fuck garage rock – the CHEAP FREAKS’ “Bury Them All” comes to mind, but where that record was tight, nimble and polished, this is loose, jammy and mostly mid-tempo. It feels like the recording strategy for these guys was to throw a mike in a room and see what comes out. The vocals are barely intelligible, and the guitars are straight fuzz, garnished with a slice of tone – sometimes the actual tone is simply blown out by the sheer volume of distortion.

It’s a nice tactic, and no doubt the Psyched are probably a killer live act, but because of this, the record relies pretty heavily on rhythm, and lives and dies by the strength of its beat – “Good Boy” is an example of how this really works well, feeling like a take on the White Stripes’ “Black Math,” sans guitar solos. This leads into the tribal stomper “Oh Yeah,” which makes use of a simple beat and some vicious drum hits. “Cut The Chord” is a particularly memorable track, but most others slide by without making much impression at all. The Psyched do aggression well, but constant aggression and noise eventually fade into the background – there’s scarcely room to breathe here, and by the end of side 2, you’re not really noticing much. “Hey Mona” is nice, but it’s barely distinguishable from the tracks before and after it. “Finishing Touches” is an exception to this, though – turning the fuzz into an instrument of tension to be blown up with some great backup vocals. The song’s also a really nice showcase for the keys here – a sorely underused element on this LP. This track goes from a tight, wiry groove during the verse and explodes into noodly atonal synth noises on the coda – easily the standout track here.

There’s awesome moments on this record, but too often they’re separated by a squall of fuzz that eventually just fades into white noise. Though the Psyched are faithful devotees of Thee Holy Gain Knob, they could also do with a brief moment of clarity now and then. They openly admit the rawness and the harshness of their sound – on their bandcamp, they describe it as a doom-metal edge. I see the comparison, but I certainly wouldn’t make it myself. The Psyched have the fury, but they need some soul behind the noise. There’s been enough examples of enfant terribles who dial back the distortion and hit their stride a few releases, though, so I think there’s promise in these guys. If you like your garage to come in the form of a pure ass-whuppin’, though, this is your band.

LISTEN: The Psyched Bandcamp

BUY: Slovenly

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