If a garage band goes by Bass Drum of Death, you might assume that mortality is always somewhat on the brain for these folks. But listen further, and the grime-laced chords kill any preconceived eyerolls you harbor about “garage rock” today. Unlike a number of their contemporaries, Bass Drum of Death doesn’t drown chords in scuzz, but breathes through blues-infused hooks and a punk aesthetic.
Drummer Colin Sneed has left Bass Drum of Death since the band’s debut GB City, and the project has shifted from Fat Possum to LA’s more eclectic Innovative Leisure. It’s only really prevalent on songs like “Such a Bore”, which wades in with a surf-drenched riff similar to labelmates Allah-Las’ sandy self-titled debut. Yet the California warmth isn’t the sludge-sweat of a southern summer. The Mississippi-bred boys produce something faster, dirtier, and more dangerous, like an impending heat stroke.
While GB City felt like a fleeting glance with a stranger, Bass Drum of Death is a fully realized one night stand. Here, Barrett isn’t so much riffing about gravity bongs and church girls as he is provoked by others’ actions and why people act the way they do. And it’s quite universal — all about things we consciously ponder, such as clearly being lied to (“Fine Lies”) and the desire to be respected, or at the very least listened to (“White Fright”).
Where the disaffection is toned down, the fuzz is cranked up with a certain punchiness previously absent from Bass Drum of Death’s CV. The crashes and clangs of single “Crawling After You” may be the bounciest tune yet, but it’s still snarling enough to be, well, a killer.
Essential Tracks: “No Demons,” “Way Out” and “Fine Lies”