Thursday, May 15, 2014

AL MARANTZ "Jerry's Noodles"


This Cassette stands out from the rest in a major way. It's on the top of my list of the best cassettes I've received for review since I've begun reviewing at Cassette Gods almost a year ago now. It was a welcome surprise that Al Marantz is native to Cambridge, Massachusetts, just over the bridge from my humble abode here in Boston. "Jerry's Noodles" is perhaps a game changer in the genre of experimental rock and roll folk-art 4-track bedroom jams, a genre popularized by Ariel Pink, the Microphones(Mt. Eerie) and George Brigman. Sonic trademarks of 4 track jams are very "warm" microphones, almost whispered lyrics due to "warm" microphones, large ranges of analog or/and synthetic instruments, vocal harmonies and homage to early years of over-produced studio albums with sonic explorations too foreign for live consumption.

The album's title is a play on words referencing the way Jerry Garcia would play lead solo guitar in the Grateful Dead, or Jerry's "noodling". While Al Marantz can't solo like Garcia (who can?), his albums combine a calm energy with an intellectual spirit for pop experimental range. He sounds like White Fang minus the emphasis of getting wrecked on a daily basis and with the irony knob pulled down to 3 as opposed to 11. Songs casually drift from transcendent dance beats to swamp folk to Otto the bus driver head-bangers, to laid back garage ballads to dazzling flanger guitar college rock.

The design production value is incredibly understated and the illustrations are crudely depicted to the point of resembling middle school doodles. I'm almost certain this was printed out on a home printer and hand cut with scissors. This is fine, perhaps even something to celebrate in a different context, but the track listing's screen resolution is shitty and therefore, hard to read. Typography matters!

But with that said, don't judge a cassette by its sleeve. This is a landmark release for Boston area rock, if not for rock in the USA. It feels like it was made in a different era altogether, like a demo album by a Hampshire College sophomore dude stressed out about Iraq's aggression towards Kuwait in the early nineties who just discovered the Stooges for the first time...

He has a couple of songs on soundcloud. Check it out!!!

Listen to the whole album online here -

https://soundcloud.com/amarantz/sets/jerrys-noodles-1

--Jack Turnbull

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