Monday, January 9, 2017

Album Review: Menace Beach - Lemon Memory

This album is the height of noise, mixed with the perfect amount of garage. Not "noise" like "random sounds" but "noise" like "The Velvet Underground" meets "The Melvins" "noise." If you're looking for varied male and female vocals and note perfect production that makes it sound like these guys are playing in your next door neighbor's garage, this is the band for you.

Their opening track - and first single from the album - "Give Blood" drops you right in the middle of the action. It feels like you're in on a soundcheck and their monitors are off by just enough to let their true talent shine - it feels like you're listening to a hot mic on what was supposed to be a test run for the "real" track. It's raw, it's fun, and Liza's vocals soar when she's given a chance.

But that's nothing compared to "Maybe We'll Drown," where she gets to take the lead and it's difficult to say where her voice ends and the guitar riffs begin.

It's hard to choose a favorite song, but the title track - "Lemon Memory" - is a psychedelic-punk trip of a song that, while perfect on this album, would be just as at home on a "Sonic Youth" album, and it's definitely my favorite of the 10 songs on the album.

"Owl" is another song that lets Liza have the spotlight again, and she doesn't disappoint, carrying us through the whole song on the back of her powerful voice. Her vocal range is beautiful, too.

The final song - "Hexbreaker II" - is a song that starts soft and then crescendos throughout the song to end the album on a high from all the members of the band. It's a superb hammer to drop for the end of the album.

Every single song on this album is not only great in its own right, but they work together as an album experience. (I'd go more into this, but I'm dangerously close to veering into "old man yells at clouds" levels of navel-gazing, so I'll let it go for now...) I also don't want to sound like I'm discounting the songs that are helmed by Ryan, which are excellent as well. Liza's vocals, though... they're just hauntingly great!

This album takes me back to the early days of noise (which, honestly I know about more through the power of the Internet and Pandora than from having followed or lived it), and it is a new addition to the genre that stands up to Sonic Youth's Confusion is Sex, Social Distortion's self-titled album, and  Butthole Surfers' Electriclarryland. I look forward not only to hearing more from them, but I need to go back and check out their other releases from the past couple of years. These guys are a group to watch.

You can pre-order the album here, and find more about them here.

If you're in the UK, you can catch them on tour:
1/23 London - Rough Trade East
1/31 Sheffield - The Picture House
2/01 Leicester - The Cookie
2/02 Birmingham - Hare & Hounds
2/03 Cardiff - Clwb Ifor Bach
2/04 Southampton - The Joiners
2/06 Oxford - Bullingdon Arms
2/07 Brighton - The Hope & Ruin
2/08 London - Moth Club
2/09 Cambridge - The Portland Arms
2/10 Liverpool - The Magnet
2/11 Manchester - Deaf Institute
2/14 Glasgow - Broadcast
2/15 Edinburgh - Sneaky Pete’s
2/16 Newcastle - The Cluny
2/17 Leeds - Brudenell Social Club

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