July 25, 2014

Max Bell pulled Stevie Nicks from the set of “American Horror Story”

In 2014, garage rock of any denomination is a lot like ‘90s inflected hip-hop of the boom-bap variety. There are far too many reverential, indistinguishable practitioners. For every Alchemist behind the boards, there are hordes of crate-digging Pete Rock disciples locked in the same loops. For every White Stripes there are innumerable bands on small indie labels that hold Elektra’s Nuggets compilation as sacred writ, fading into BandCamp obscurity as soon as they press their Day-Glo cassettes.

Brighton-based trio The Wytches are not of this ilk. Together, Kristian Bell (vocals, guitar), Dan Rumsey (bass, vocals) and Gianni Honey (drums) make some of the best psych-tinged surf rock I’ve heard of late, tempering their ‘60s leanings with the sludge of Black Sabbath, the grinding grunge of Bleach era Nirvana. Their sound does not the perfect wave make. It is oceanic doom, fear and loathing seen from white sand beaches, the soundtrack to the torrential Hawaiian storms Hunter S. Thompson wrote about in “The Curse of Lono.”

“Burn Out the Bruise” is The Wytches’ latest single from their forthcoming debut, Annabel Dream Reader. Three clacks of Honey’s drumsticks are the only build up before the band launches into shredding, carefully constructed cacophony. When they scale things back, you hear the surf rock in the six-string twang that punctuates the tight, driving drums. Rumsey’s bass provides the ominous backbone, sounding like the deepest of death knells. And Bell’s powerful wails walk the line between Cobain and Jack White, his occasional warbling, drowning-like inflections probably borrowed from the latter. The Wytches don’t reinvent the wheel here, but they’ve dug up and dusted off their own clamorous nugget of noise.

Previous singles “The Holy Tightrope” and  “Wire Frame Mattress,” which is arguably their best song to date, are below the jump. There’s also video of Bell’s NPR acoustic set, which gives you a chance to hear his often poignant lyrics, the admitted inspiration he draw from singer-songwriters like Elliot Smith. Annabel Dream Reader is out at the end of next month via Brooklyn’s Partisan Records. It drops at the end of summer for a reason.

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