Hung At Heart
Jordan Leman, February 20, 2013
Listen: “Salt On A Slug”
ast month I got to see The Growlers at the famed 40 Watt in Athens, Georgia. I missed the first two opening bands, The Humms and The Vacant Lots, as I was too taken in by the hundreds of other distractions that are in Athens (a fuckload of bars). By time I got to the show, the band literally went right into their first song, which I can’t remember the name of, because, like I said, there’s a lot of bars in Athens and you can’t just choose one. However, The Growlers were all decked out in colorful ’60s garb that Mick Jagger made ever so famous and behind them was your stereotypical psych backdrop with a projector displaying your typical assortment of psychedelic accents. It was a quintessential ’60s psych performance that for some reason did not seem so out of place in present-day Athens, Georgia.
One thing you can say about The Growlers from Orange County, California is that they are truly genuine in their sound. Ever since the explosion of country and psychedelic rock from California in the ’60s and ’70s, this country has had its fair share of bands from nowhere near California try–and fail–to emulate the sound and vibe that bands like the Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, and The Quicksilver Messenger Service pioneered. How can you make music singing about the highs and lows and everything in between of life in California if your band is from Topeka, Kansas? With The Growlers however, they have made a short, yet distinguished, career out of making solid psych-garage rock records that has made casual listeners think they have stumbled upon some long lost ’60s psych masterpiece.
With their new record, Hung At Heart, The Growlers provide us with another strong and lengthy record. It is pretty astonishing to see a band continually and consistently put out 15-20 song records and not at one point in any of them feel like the album is plodding and dragging on. Even their 2010 EP Hot Tropics would be considered full-length for thousands of punk and metal bands–tallying in at ten songs.
There are so many nuances that a band can perform with this type of music and not stray into experimental leanings for the sake of being experimental, and The Growlers stay consistent with their heavily reverberated vocals and guitars with the occasional heavy organ flourishes. However, it was a bit out of left field to hear on the track “Living in a Memory,” with its clean acoustic guitar intro, but within ten seconds you hear the familiar distant and hazy vocals of Brooks Nielsen come in and you get that strange realization that a simple acoustic guitar intro constituted as the band branching out on their sound. Speaking of lead singer Brooks Nielsen, it seems that on this new record that he has gotten down pat the whole distant and seemingly not caring vocal sound that many lead singers try to do and just come off as a bit disinterested in singing. I’m looking at you Julian Casablancas.
All in all, its another great release by the guys from Napa Point. As someone who has enjoyed all their records, you always have that nagging thought in the back of your mind wondering when the first dud is going to come. Surely at some point a band can’t produce long, yet expansive, record after record, can they? But if Guided By Voices can do it for nearly thirty years, surely these guys can too.