Malas Semilla, Light Travels Faster and Dark Meat August 28, 2007 The hi-dive Better than: A psychedelic tent revival
Malas Semillas was the sound of an alternate universe where hipster culture spontaneously generated in the Appalachians, complete with irony and punk rock roots intact, but lacking all other indie touchstones. These kids pumped out hillbilly pop on banjos, mandolin, acoustic guitar and standup bass, with the occasional dollop of saw, washboard and spoons. It was silly and chock full of fun. The song about Pauly Shore and the cover of the Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl” were fun if inessential; the cover of Ween’s “Baby Bitch” did little for me; but the original song “Bowl Me” – an innuendo and entendre-laden tune built around a bowling metaphor – was charming, catchy and funny as hell. The closer, a high-speed hoedown that references the Devil himself, was pretty fine too.
Light Travels Faster followed and left me perplexed. The bass playing was exceptional and full of nice, rolling lines. It pushed the songs along and sometimes carried the melody. The drum work was also pretty nice, especially the thunderous toms of doom. There were flashes of excellence in the guitar, notably in some exquisite tones and clever phrasing. The shouted, punky vocals left me unimpressed, but weren’t offensive. A few songs had some pretty fantastic dynamic shifts and chunky grooves. Yet somehow the end result fell short of the sum of its parts. Perhaps it was a chemistry thing, or maybe the songs simply need a little fine tuning. Either way, there’s definitely a strong foundation here. Keep pushing boys; if this clicks it could be quite nice.
And there was Dark Meat. Understand, this is like the line from the bible: “And there was light.” This was a revelation. I now understand those crazy fuckers that speak in tongues. This made me want to ingest a handful of phenethylamine freakiness, rip my clothes off and gibber at the moon for a few hours. My pineal gland was torn on its axis and freed. There were like nineteen people (okay, probably closer to ten) on stage making all sorts of joyful noise. Cascading waves of horns and crushing grooves of psychedelic funk were caressed by metal licks in an acid-lit playground of musical dementia. It was like an American version of Acid Mothers Temple skullfucking the Polyphonic Spree, which then gave birth to peyote gremlins who want you to dance, motherfucker, dance. My only real complaint is it was over far too soon. I could have listened to this all night long. Please come back soon, Dark Meat. -- Cory Casciato
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Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I love psychedelia done right, probably due to a misspent youth of chemical exploration. Random Detail: Some guy picked me up and put me on his shoulders during Dark Meat’s set. It was that kind of night. By the Way: Do not miss Dark Meat when they come to town again. This is powerful stuff.