(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CD review - Xray Eyeballs, Not Nothing (2011)

Xray Eyeballs are so garage that you can hear the lawnmower and gas can in the corner adding their own sympathetic vibrations. Their sludgy mix is thick with guitar fuzz and subway wall vocal echoes. Like Thee Oh Sees, Xray Eyeballs pound their way through low-fi garage rock. The standout difference is that they have an affinity for early '80s post punk riffs.

Front man O. J. San Felipe assembled the band out of fellow Golden Triangle bandmates, Carly Rabalais and Jay High, along with Rop Style and Allison Press. San Felipe has worked overtime on promotion, saturating the band's Brooklyn home with "Ghost Girl" design t-shirts and hyping a sexy/disturbing video for Not Nothing's lead off tune, Crystal.

Crystal starts out with a post punk groove that shoots straight to garage as soon as the guitar comes in, heavily tremoloed and echoed. The voodoo torture story line for the song (moral: don't snag any choice vinyl out of someone's hands at the record store) evokes the Cramps, although the underlying music is bouncier. In fact, despite the static infused sound, Xray Eyeballs sound fairly tight.

Things get more interesting on the second track, Nightwalkers, which leads off with a low-fi jangle steal of the main riff from Modern English's I Melt With You. Then, the guitar line from Egyptian Magician hits a similar 1982 vibe, albeit drenched in distortion. These post punk touches give the band the bulk of their character to stand out from other garage rock thrashers.

The singing is marginally clearer than fellow garage noisers like Thee Oh Sees, but the muddy, distant vocals is Not Nothing's weakest element. They're buried down too far in the mix, sometimes contributing little more than sneer. It's best to brush them away and focus on the pop beats, post punk riffs, and noisy guitar.

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