Okay, so I’ve been a bit “silent” on this site for a couple of weeks now, and I plan on explaining my literal and figurative absence in a more extended piece in the days to come. For now I’ve got to share my newest musical obsession. Things never really change do they?
Let’s be honest, we all have “types”. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are drawn to certain objects, ideas, foods, and even people with a high degree of regularity. For some this might seem a negation of originality, but ultimately, I think it’s just a reminder that we are creatures of habit and/or circumstance.
Enter Gashcat, hailing from various haunts across the American South and West, from what I can gather, Arizona, Louisiana, and Austin (further proof to me that Austin is an island/entity on to itself in the vast Texan expanse). This quirky collective of musicians hits on nearly all of my musical pleasure points: High male falsetto. Check. Rough edged, Lo-Fi pop. Check. Horns. Check. Unbridled mirth and mayhem. Check and Check. If the Muppet Babies grew up to form a rock band I think they’d probably sound like Gashcat.
Well, actually, I think Gashcat sound a lot more like another great group of yesteryear: Neutral Milk Hotel. I’m certainly not the first person to say this from the press I’ve read. For anyone who was obsessed with Jeff Mangum, the music of the Elephant Six collective, and the brilliance of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Gashcat is a fresh take on an old and familiar sound, and one you can actually see in person. (Of course, Jeff Mangum did undertake a solo tour recently in which he played hauntingly beautiful stripped down, acoustic versions of the NMH catalog. However, no news of “new material” has surfaced.)
Devil Kid Demos is exactly what the title suggests: a short smattering of songs-in-progress. Yet, despite their nascent stage, there are kernels of greatness already imbued in each track. The standout track is easily “Lady of the Ark”, which feels like it could easily have been one of Magnum’s outtakes from In the Aeroplane… Listen for the simple stripped-down production values infused with 60s pysch harmonies and somewhat atonal horn section; I think you’d be hard pressed not to hear the similarities. Beginning with a singular guitar underscoring a man’s pining vocals, “Lady of the Ark” has all the perfect qualities of song searching for answers from a distant, moving idea(l). The band then shifts gears from Southern Gothic Mysticism to a more up-beat, almost surfer rock imbued pop reminiscent of the Apples in Stereo (another Elephant Six band) or Mass Romantic/Electric Version-era New Pornographers on “The Mystic, Naturally”. It almost feels like you are floating back through time, discovering some dusty unknown reel-to-reel, in an abandoned studio from a defunct 20th Century indie-label. But, it’s not! Certainly, Gashcat isn’t alone in this retro-time capsule sounding genre; it slots in well with folks like Ariel Pink, Fred Thomas’ , and the aforementioned Elephant Six, who much like the Punk movement of the late 70s were moved by 60s rock and pop. The time-travel continues again with “Leech”, a strangely downbeat The Mamas and Papas sounding Medieval-Choral quality to start the track followed by the lead singer’s wailing falsetto with the jangly high-pitched guitar chords. For me, it is the sound of youthful (or young) exploration, of the highs and lows of attaining wisdom and understanding. Perhaps, the last part is a bit heavy, but, then again, certain sounds and ideas strike a chord.
Devil Kid Demos is a pleasant pastiche of past and present filtered through fuzzy and free-spirit fueled production values. It portends of exciting things to come, so check them out at…
…and if you are sitting there going who are all those people mentioned above, here is a short “appendix” with links.
…and if you’ve never heard In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, then remedy that by listening here.
Over and out. More on the morrow.