Trab-Arena, Hamburg, GER - 20/8
Undercover Crops EP
Written by: TL on 05/03/2013 20:53:15
I was aaaalmost catching up to my pending reviews back around new years, before opening up the busiest January/February combination I can remember having in recent years. Naturally, I've slipped a bit again then, partially to coach up all the new 'initials' you see posting articles around here these days. Anyway, enough with the personal blabla, it's all just to excuse a review like this for being late, considering that the "Undercover Crops" EP from Illinois duo Tweak Bird has been out since October. The disc is my first encounter with the band, who have me reaching for references, probably being accurate when they claim on their facebook to being inspired by "everything good you never heard of". Mostly however, they remind me of Jane's Addiction, primarily because of their layered, youthful vocals, but also because of the considerable walls of riffage they employ in their unusual mix of psychedelic, stoner, grunge and pop. Jane's Addiction, but mixed with something lighter, a bit of Dinosaur Jr. maybe, or something like Jay Reatard, but with a heavier tempo.
What really sets Tweak Bird apart from most stoner-rock bands, is that they are anything but jammy and long-winded on "Undercover Crops", with only one song exceeding the three minute mark, and with most bringing the noisy riffage in from the word go and just rollicking through verses and choruses with few deroutes if any. The noisy, ringing walls of distortion from the genre are simply pressed into no-bullshit, poppy song-structures, that seemingly aim to be simple, catchy and punchy and that's it. This works the best I find, in a song like "Psychorain", which is the first to bid you welcome on returning listens, but "People" isn't bad either, partly because it's very similar to "Psychorain".
This similarity happens to be a theme however, for an EP that casts the band in a pretty narrow niche. It makes for a unique and highly recognisable sound, but the simple fact is that if you're going to keep things this simple and stylised, you're going to need to write some really killer hooks to keep people interested. "Psychorain" and "Bunch O' Brains" have the best ones here in my opinions, and on these tracks the band show their potential. Overall though, the other songs coming off a bit weaker does make "Undercover Crops" as a whole seem a bit samey and effectively, forgetable. Its staying power is questionable I think, but that being said, it is a pretty cool and attention-grabbing listen to begin with, so you should definitely check it out if you get turned on by the idea of indie-poppy stoner.
Download: Psychorain, Bunch O' Brains,
For The Fans Of: Dinosaur Jr., Jay Reatard, Jane's Addiction
Release Date 09.10.2012