The New Lo-Finds: Rubber Band Gun
Artist: Rubber Band Gun
Album: Horror Sounds in Stereo
Sounds Like: The Rolling Stones, Foxygen, The Velvet Underground, Surf Hardcore, The Beatles
Ok, yes, those are some wild allegations, claiming that Rubber Band Gun sounds like The Beatles And The Rolling stones? Yeah, we’ve all heard of the media founded believes that these two historic bands were great rivals when in reality they were more friends than not, but saying that a band from 2014 (’13 if you dig just a wee bit deeper) encompasses both? Is that madness? Yes. Horror Sounds in Stereo is, in fact, madness. It is horror. It is in stereo.
To be honest I didn’t really find this band on my own accord (which I wish I could say… hipster much?), I stumbled upon a tweet from Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, promoting his friends project: Rubber Band Gun. You can also see Rado being thanked for his “infinite wisdom” on the album credits; thus one can understand the similarities in sound, production, and maybe even some compositional aspects akin to Foxygen’s Take the Kids off Broadway, or even Rado’s own Law and Order (which I highly recommend).
Let me go ahead and apologize in advance for veering off and speaking about Foxygen so much.
Also, I must inform you that Rubber Band Gun is the musical project of Kevin Basko, Foxygen’s new touring guitarist since …And Star Power was released, So that’s where the influence might have poured in. Or maybe it’s just coincidence that they sound similar, maybe it’s just me seeing things, maybe I’m just being and a-hole, oh well.
So we kick off with “The Creation of Master Computer.” Perfect intro fitting of the song tittle which then breaks into this rockabilly swing phrase which just captivated my ears as hard as hearing Regina Spektor surprise appearance inside a song by Leonard Cohen, or Bob Dylan, or Lou Reed –Let’s be honest, yes, these are songwriters of unfathomable skills, talent, artistry, and vision but their singing? Meh. Put any of these geniuses (not being sarcastic) on one of todays singing competitions and watch them get booted by just introducing themselves. Don’t get me wrong though, these fellows are amongst my favorite artists but I’m just trying to prove a very ridiculous point– What I’m trying to say is that the beginning rock phrase is beautifully perfect. It makes me want to sing words that aren’t there, it makes me want to dance, and jump, and twist, and shout (am I a genius too now? Get it?). The one thing that saddens me the most is that this phrase does not appear again on the track after about 30 seconds, which some might argue it to be fitting, but I beg to differ. “Six numbers, six nights,” he sings as he appears for the first time sounding eerily similar to Lou Reed in… well, in everything with that almost spoken word lackluster style. This way of singing adds a dark, storytelling tone to the track, it tells you there is something here that you should pay attention too, and that even if it will impossible for you to comprehend given the gritty nature of the buried vocals, you should still attempt to which is what I did. Tried. Failed. “When a God’s not there…,” is what I think it is said when the first chorus kicks in at 1:19, at this point, if you’re not analyzing the playhead on your music playing app or streaming service, you will be convinced it is a complete different song, this one being a little more rock and roll-ish, a tat more punk, welcome Mick Jagger. 1:48 rolls in, we are now travelling into the Fleetwood Mac bridge, which heavily reminds me of the chorus in Foxygen’s “Make It Known” and again at 2:19 reminding me of a small interlude in Foxygen’s song once more. “The Creation of Master Computer” is an awesome song to listen to when you want a roller coaster of emotions, ending on this almost lost love good-bye song. It is a four and a half minute sonic epic, it’s fluctuating arrangement reminding me akin to MGMT‘s Siberian Breaks. There you have it, so much goes on in this introductory song, it opens you up to the greatness that is to come, or does it? (spoiler) Yes… yes, it does.
Again, I apologize, but I can’t help but draw sonic similarities between Rado’s band and Basko’s project.
Now, this LP has twenty tracks, so going through all of them isn’t really possible for me at the moment, besides I’m not really reviewing the album per se, what I do is more just pointing stuff out that I would normally to myself but this time putting it down on paper (or screen rather).
In the second track, “Ashikibosh Take III,” Basko’s voice sounds a lot like Jake Bugg, and it would be a song Jake would maybe write if he had more musical maturity. Yeah, Bugg’s ok, his tracks are catchy but in my opinion the album he made with Rick Rubin was a complete failure. Rick-f#@!ing-Rubin, guys! He is like the face of musical evolution, if there was a god of musical evolution, it would be him, or the god would have his face and his wisdom filled beard, but none of that helped, the album bombed. I was disappointed in both of them, but they couldn’t care less, besides, all the tumblr kids were uber-hyped for Bugg’s sophomore release. Damn man, I get off track so easily, “Mom!? Where is my Aderol!”
You get the treat of being able to listen to a previous version of Ashikibosh, “Ashikibosh Take II,” as one of Rubber Band Gun’s other past releases, being able to witness the production decisions made is something I treasure, even on such a lo-fi project such as this one. It begins as a The Microphones’ song and it transforms, at about 4:40 you almost think “Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog” is going to start, best part of the song in my opinion, “I know you, show me that you know… Baby, I’ll sing along.” Hell yeah.
“Sword for Bill,” track 7, has probably my favorite guitar strumming pattern out of the album. Kevin’s sample infused tracks tingle my lo-fi fetish. I am a firm believer that Kevin Basko is an alchemist, melodies come to him and when he touches them he turns them into gold, but he is a mad alchemist, he has fun turning the gold back into other less valuable metals and back into gold over and over again in order to please his insatiable creativity and in the process he satisfies any listener, there is something here for everyone. “The Menacing Walk of Dr. Sillus” could easily be an experimental cover of a song by electronic artist Moby.
Oh, I’m sorry, did you just say you wished there was an acapella track on here? Boom, here you go:
Now I’m reminded a very small bit of some Led Zeppelin with track 18, “X-ray vision glasses.” This track is amazing, the whole project is incredible really.
I really admire what has been done in this LP. 20 songs, each sounding like more than two put together, and the use of samples, man, that’s my favorite part. Intertwining samples to help tell a story (I think) in this almost faux concept album, very admirable. I applaud you, Mr. Basko.
I was really let down with Foxygen’s last release …And Star Power, if this was their actual second release, I’d still love Foxygen as much as I did when I heard Take the Kids off Broadway and how much I loved them even more with We are the 21st… album. Now I have replaced …And Star Power, with Basko’s Horror Sounds in Stereo. This psychedelic lo-fi rock master piece, is incredible. I am so pleased to have come across it, and I am happy to know Rado champions it. I hope someday to see Kevin Basko play this live with Foxygen supporting him.
Foxygen, Foxygen, Foxygen, Foxygen…..