Friday, November 1, 2013

CREATUROS "Swampp Thingg" (Primordial Sounds)

 Wow, this cassette by Creaturos was a pleasant surprise. I saw these guys play on Columbus Day last week opening for Ty Segall's new band fuzz and they were your average four piece garage surf rock band, definitely pros at what they do but also generic ... that said, they had good taste and chose to channel good influences. The cassette, in contrast, I have very few complaints about. It's well produced, elaborate, intelligent, well composed and delivers the goods: High energy electronic rock and fucking roll.

SIDE A
On cassette the magic of the audio studio adds a lot; echoplex voice tracks are placed perfectly in between the verse and chorus on "Jame's Day Milkshake". The vocal harmonies cut through the mix better than in a live setting.

"Charlie Brown" has a distinctive garage rock feel, but the subtle use of a phaser distortion pedal gives this song a feel absent from your old school Lookout! Records crew. There is also an outro accompanied by feedback, falsetto vocals and a flute (!!!). This part matures Charlie Brown and is what makes this band not your average dad rock. It finally goes back into three chord but they let the flutist, Molly Kate Maltezos, rip! The reel to reel zips off at the end.

These guys go pedal to the metal and can get loud. These guys can be swooners and can get the audience to fall in love with them too. It's a personal critique, but I could use a little more clean guitar on this. Everything is drenched with reverb, which makes everything sound mystical, but it can also muddle at times. Their blues song "3 times" is a good return to Earth. While it still sounds like it was recorded in a Church, the insertion of an acoustic guitar (or maybe it's just a clean electric) is a good instinct. The drums are also just tambourine. Ironically, the quieter "3 times" is the most menacing song on the cassette. it sounds like Leadbelly licks but Spencer Gralla has a tenor voice like Ozzy Osborne. It makes for a killer cool combination even if the lyrics just repeat themselves.

Side A ends with "Weak End" a fuzzed out rock ballad with noise parts that let the chords hold out. Great, great, contemporary rock and roll. The composition seems to showcase a knowledge of rock history. I hear Neil Young, My Bloody Valentine, the Who, Brian Eno (?!?!) ... its just a few basic chords but the tone is so calculated. AND ALSO! While still reverberated, Gralla can (gasp!) SING! I don't want to sound flip, but I have reviewed so many tapes where the vocals were an afterthought. Here Gralla does not shy away or cop out with desperate screams. "Weak End" is anything but.


SIDE B
Side B opens with solo guitar without a pick; each individual string is articulated. But this doesn't last too long as Creaturos embark on a jam that reminds me of "Thee Ohh Sees" at their most excited. This is primarily because of the echoes used in the vocals.

The next song, "Leave your face behind", is more of a trippy cowboy ballad with FANTASTIC multi-vocals. If anything, buy this tape for the singer because he can sing, a rarity in our cassette culture.

"UFO Yeah!!!" is appropriately the cassette's biggest space jam. When I say this, I mean there is a lot of added effects that do not correspond traditionally to the bass/drums/guitar. but they cut through the mix well and do not distract.

The last song, "Something Happened" is a last call love lost ballad which is a great way to end. The vocals are double with a female voice and an omnichord is supplied by Johny Allen. Here the reverb guitar sounds golden, sublime and perfect. "Something Happened" breaks verse/chorus/verse structure, is haunting with lines like "something happened when we were young/ wasn't worth the trouble but it was fun", crescendos at the end into sonic rock and roll bliss. That driving bass line of just one note played fiercely while the drums go crazy will never get old. Not in the year 3000.

Love this tape. You should book these guys, watch these guys, love these guys. If they can find a way to add the studio extra elements to their live set they'll be unstoppable.

--Jack Turnbull

You can order tapes at http://primordialsounds.bigcartel.com/.  I highly recommend you also check out the recently released Don Gero tape on the label.  One man live drumming with triggers and pedals similar to Black Pus or Dick Neff, but with it's own (sort of more refined) thing going on. - ed.

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