Contrary to popular opinion — assuming this opinion remains in the Internet Age — there's a lot more to being a music critic than free records and T-shirts, VIP parties, open bars and the occasional complimentary hors d'oeuvres. No, sometimes you've got to beat some modicum of creativity out of your brain regarding things that often aren't entirely creative or original in nature.
Think of that more as a backhanded compliment regarding the latest wave of garage-rock revival than a dis. It's both impressive and heartwarming that young folks now recognize the seniority of The Troggs' and The Seeds' simple aesthetic over, say, the bluesy neo-stomp of The White Stripes. But while Goner and Estrus Records spent the '90s and Aughts rubbing that aesthetic raw and naked — forcing it into an almost unlistenable state — we now not only see pop sensibilities creeping back into the genre, but pop production as well. That is to say, the most apparent trademark in modern garage punk is that the records no longer sound like shit. It hasn't been completely overhauled, however —placing anything too new in this sunny new wave would both defeat the purpose of a revival and change the game entirely. So we chew on this new crop of bands like cheeseburgers and chewing gum, enjoying a quality stab and fresh ingredients inside an old and reliable formula.
Miami-based Jacuzzi Boys' second effort, Glazin' — now just a couple months old — still sports the rough-and-tumble three-chord uniform they'll need in order to keep their street-credit card in the garage-punk player's club. It claps, stomps, chops and chomps like any good (or bad) garage-punk record should. But it also sports an occasional shimmery pop sheen — a result of bringing a little sand from the beach back into the studio with you. Easier tempos and a few "oohs" and "aahs" on tracks like "Koo Koo With You" and "Crush" give us revisionist fantasies about The Zombies laying down late-night collabs with The Sonics, or maybe ? and the Mysterians as recorded by Brian Wilson.
From there, the youth appeal never stops. If there's any way to keep the kids buying this stuff, it's finding a middle ground in that narrow gamut of teenage infatuations. Their debut No Seasons dove headfirst into young, dumb, throwback party punk, which hasn't been abandoned entirely on their follow-up. But thrown in here are some scruffy but affectionate bits of prose for fans who ain't too tough to fall in love — or at least admire the concept. Perfect summer-romance mixtape fodder.
Even the greatest garage rockers of the last 50-plus years haven't had the easiest time churning out records with only three or four chords to work with. Granted, garage pioneers like The Remains and The Seeds needed worry only about pressing a kick-ass 45 as opposed to an LP — and whether or not things were better that way is an argument for another time. Glazin' in its entirety isn't a stellar listen in the scope of pop records for basically the aforementioned reasons. But as far as garage-punk records go, it's as good or better than a great many, and it features more than a few standout cuts that will surely enjoy an extended shelf life via Spotify playlists or whatever the hell the kids are jumbling their tracks on these days.
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