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Slushy – Pastime Gardens (2014) review

December 27, 2014

Slushy – Pastime Gardens (2014) review

Slushy “Pastime Gardens” (Grabbing Clouds Records & Tapes, 2014)
I don’t exactly know how it’s possible for a band to sound
so freakin’ punk and yet so poppy and surfy at the same time.  Usually it leans one way or the other, but
Slushy are quickly earning a reputation for being able to do what so few other
bands are truly capable of, traversing between the lines, skillfully evading
definitions or labels.  Pastime Gardens
might sound slightly different from earlier releases, perhaps a little bit more
deliberate and collected than before, but other than that, little has changed
with Slushy’s infectious lo-fi Motwon surf rock meets the Ramones sound.  Opening with “Now I Need You” the listener is
instantly transported to the sleazy gas station dwelling domains housing the
drink that Slushy draws their name from. 
They sound like Brian Wilson started a band on a drinking binge in the
back alley of a 711.  And then they
recorded the album there in a complete stupor of inspiration.  “Summertime Girls” does a perfect job of
evoking its’ name sake, gently pounding waves of reverberated guitar and keys
coming and going like the tide.  People
don’t write songs like this anymore, its way to catchy and lacks the jaded
undertones that belie so many attempts at this kind of music.  By the time it’s done you really do feel like
it’s summer time, you feel like getting up and shacking your ass, moving around
and having some fun…  “Montanaro” is a
foray into the reverb soaked world of the late-60s beach-side sound gone
terribly wrong, or maybe horribly right? 
Either way, the unhinged melody of “Montanaro” is a toe-tapper to be
sure!  I’ll be damned if you’re not
singing along with the chorus by the end of the song, “Montanaro, Montanaro,
Montanaro…” the undulating spacey feedback fading in and out of existence to
great success.  At times I can’t help but
feel like there’s this kind of folky Americana undercurrent going on in
Slushy’s music.  It’s something almost
reminiscent of Dylan right after he plugged in, but just before he drank his
last brain cell into utter oblivion and teamed with a perfect 60’s garage rock
sensibilities, and “So Happy” is a perfect example.  Yeah, it’s catchy as hell and it’s presented
in a pretty accessible way, but there’s something really cool and unique about
these songs.  It’s that certain something
that sets Slushy apart from the competition in my opinion.  “Good Luck Charm” has all the chanting,
repetitive power that Slushy are able to summon from punk rock, but it also
still stays well within the sun-soaked Californian framework laid-out on
previous tracks.  Like a lot of Slushy’s
stuff if you were to find a 45 of this stuff along with a stash of other
unknown garage rockers from the late 60’s from say San Fran or something, you’d
be hard pressed to pick out as being out of place.  “She’s Going Away” on the other hand is
another one of those songs where you can’t help but feel like the Beach Boys
went on some sort of deranged bender, recorded a literal mess of songs, and now
forty years out, someone dug ‘em up and dumped the tape straight to wax!  There’s a wild, almost manic exuberance to
these songs, insanely distorted, sparkly guitar exploding from the recesses and
hum of the tape.  “Run Wild” might be my
favorite song on Pastime Garden.  I don’t
know exactly what it is about “Run Wild” that drives me nuts, but I find myself
listening to it over and over again.  I
feel like it somehow perfectly sums up 90’s rock, but it manages to filter out
all the pretentiousness and bullshit that was involved with the industry back
then.  There’s nothing sappy or silly
about “Run Wild” and while a lot of Slushy’s stuff can come off as a little bit
less than extremely serious music, there’s something special about “Run Wild”
something that will ensure I’ll be coming back to this song for a long while.  “Little Heart” does a wonderful job of
following up from “Run Wild”, delivering a healthy dose of infectious hooks and
summoning up more of that delightful spaced out feedback that lies in wait in
the hissing background of the album’s mix, smattering it through out “Little
Heart” for good measure; it also has a nice guitar break on it, something I
think Slushy could do more often in fact. 
Whimsical might be the perfect way to describe a good deal of Slushy’s
music and I think that songs like “Television” are why.  It’s not a parody by any stretch of the
imagination, and I don’t mean to insinuate that there’s a comical angle to
Slushy’s music, but they do have the rare quality of being able to not take
themselves too seriously and translate that into their music without coming off
like a complete joke.  Just listen to the
lyrics to “Television” and tell me you don’t crack a smile, I mean it’s
freakin’ impossible!  The song is
perfect!  Of all the songs on Pastime
Gardens
“Round & Round” represents the Slushy that I fell in love with
best, without question.  At just over a
minute along, it somehow comes off as a completely coherent, finished
song.  For anyone who doesn’t write
music, that’s a hell of a feat in this writer’s opinion.  Following up from that “Fun In The Sun” is
exactly what it sounds like, though with a name like that you’d think that
there’d be more of that backup oohing and aahing used to such great effect on
much of the rest of the album, no that I’m complaining.  “Fun In The Sun” is one of the higher quality
sounding recordings on the album, it packs just a little more fidelity and
therefore just a little bit more punch, and I can’t quite tell if that was from
an intentional recording approach or it just kind of happened to work out that
way, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. 
It’s perfectly placed on the album and works insanely well as a
transition into the frantic energy of “Teenage Frankenstein”.  If you’re a DIY freak this song will have you
“going out of your mind”, I know I was freaking out the first time I heard
it!  The crumpling lead guitar lines
which build and tumble, imploding and exploding through out the song elevating
the energy level through the roof on this one! 
If there were any candidates for the A-side to a single on Pastime
Gardens
“Teenage Frankenstein” is the clear forerunner for me, now questions
asked.  The album feels like it should
almost be finishing when you’re listening to the next track “Done With Fun” at
first.  It’s like a rejection of the
notions espoused on the rest of the album of sorts, another tongue-in-cheek
declaration of teenage rebellion, inebriation and most importantly adventure
and excitement.  It’s the anti-ballad to
end all ballads, along with bullshit and sobriety.  “Reverberations” makes it clear why the album
doesn’t end with “Done With Fun” from the minute it starts though.  There’s a sweet mellow vibe going on that
recalls the sweet calming sounds of surf as much as it does Syd Barrett or 13th
Floor Elevators psychedelia. 
“Reverberations” is definitely the best song on Pastime Gardens.  
It might not always be the song that I put on
first, but I can’t listen to the album without giving it a spin.  It showcases everything that Slushy is capable
of as a band, the incredibly dynamic and infectious sound that they’re able to
create together, the chemical chemistry or biological makeup of the band, call
it whatever you want.  It feels like
watching the last dying rays of a summer sun from the backseat of your parent’s
station wagon on your way home from vacation. 
That sense of remorse for the summer ending, but also the anticipation,
hope and wonder that would come with the following year of school, new kids and
most importantly girls, ha-ha.  It
touches on a time past for me, a time before all the pressures and hassles of
my life now and I need that shit at this point. 
“Reverberations” isn’t just the best song either.  It perfectly sums up why Slushy is such a
great band more so than any other song on Pastime Gardens and it’s the kind of
song that I think if most of us wrote we could be content with crap for the
rest of our lives because we had made that one shinning pinnacle of everything
we represented.  “Reverberations” is
fucking magical.  Released by the up and
coming Grabbing Clouds Records & Tapes in Chicago Pastime Gardens is
limited to only 500 copies worldwide and I’ve heard that the initial 100 copies
on milky clear vinyl with cyan haze are already completely gone.  Don’t worry though, there’s still black wax
for everyone who needs it, or you can pick up the cassette version, or the
digital version…  Just make sure and get
your greasy mitts on this and whatever you do, don’t miss out on this killer
slice of the Chicago DIY sound.
Review made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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