QUICK SPINS: Pond, Bent Shapes, Kinski
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 12, 2013 3:20PM
Let's check out a new psych rock album along with two other recent releases in the old school vein of the rock once known as indie.
Pond is '60s psychedelia, pure and simple. It's a sound that's been growing in popularity over the last few years but has broken through to the mainstream in a big way as Tame Impala, who shares many members with Pond, has built its following and moved into a succession of larger and larger venues as they've incessantly toured. While Tame Impala is arguably the singular vision of Kevin Parker, Pond is a far more collaborative effort and it shows as the band's songs sprawl and are prone to switch tempos and styles many times in just a few measures. Their newest album, Hobo Rocket, sees the band growing heavier and into their own distinctive sound, even as they pull their influences more directly from time to time. For instance, while "Midnight Mass (At The Market Payphone)" liberally lifts a good chunk of The Flaming Lips' "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" it also manages to take you on a swirling nightmarish roller coaster ride of guitars and drums that is purely the band's own. And this critic can't get enough of the tribal drums that then splits into a crunching heavy guitar break in "What Ever happened To The Million Head Collide?" Come to think of it it, looking at the song titles and the group Pond shares its actual DNA with it's safe to say that if you're a fan of either Tame Impala or old school Flaming Lips then you're going to love Hobo Rocket.
When you first hear Bent Shapes' new album Feels Weird you'd be forgiven for wondering if someone either revived the Jade tree label or had found unreleased LPs in its vault to release independently. This Boston trio specializes in that super spare rock that still manages to cram each tune with tricky melodies and bouncy rhythms. All three members take their turns at the mic which adds a constantly yet pleasantly shifting color over the songs, which is necessary since the band obviously has a formula that works for it and doesn't want to stray too far musically from their comfort zone. This isn't a criticism as much as an observation that the group seems to know their limits but plays them up and into strengths, because Feels Weird is one of those discs that whizzes by so fast you can't believe it's over and sprint to place the needle back into the initial groove of side A to start the whole thing all over again.
Kinski doesn't play the nostalgia route, though their music sounds like it could have been released purely via 7" in the '90s—but that's probably because they've been around since the '90s. The bands' specific tone on their latest release Cosy Moments, alternating squirrelly, silvery guitars with chords so fuzzy the changes blur together, works in every format they shove it into. The opener "Long term Exit Strategy" takes this approach, throws it over a steady and mesmerizing drum line, and then stretches it into a hypnotic seven minutes plus that never feels too long. then they speed up the drums and slam the same basic approach, only sped up, into the pinky "Last Day On Earth." And "Riff DAD" sounds exactly what the title would lead you to expect it to sound like. It's a loud album and at times deceptively simple due to its relatively direct approach maintaining a steady musical core while varying the trappings and tempos around it. but it's also an album that succeeds because once you lock into it you realize you can't escape its grasp. Whether you want to stand in the back of the room with your arms folded and nodding your head or you want to thrash around and dance with your friends at the front, Cosy Moments is a keeper.