Terry Malts, Vivian Pikkles & the Sweethearts Über Alles, Sleuth Mango's April 11, 2012
I'll jump straight to saying Terry Malts is great, and possibly my best discovery this year so far.
The two-year old trio played their first of many future shows in Houston Wednesday night. They're a solution of classic driving early-'80s hardcore, late-'70s distortion, and early '90s fuzz-pop.
Terry Malts sprang from the San Francisco band Magic Bullets, but where that band was more thoughtful post-punk, Terry Malts was created out of drunken boredom (according to the band themselves) and is loosely crafted genius.
But there's structure in their simple craftings. Terry Malts has been likened to the Ramones due to their lo-fi poppish driving and their crooning lead singer, but there's a little more harmony behind their fuzz.
There's some harmony, but Terry Malts still captures the spirit of an era of burgeoning punk rock. They're classic, but fresh.
Terry Malts sings about neuroticism, failures and dissaprovings with a sense of confidence and a strong arm, like their claimed early 80's hardcore influences. It's fun, though, how they remain a touch polite-sounding through their lead singer's croon.
Yet after playing the most of their LP Killing Time, they seamlessly threw themselves into a cover of the Black Flag classic "6 Pack." While the lead singer maintained his voice, the cover kept its spirit, even without the presence of a Henry Rollins character bursting at the temples.
A Black Flag cover just has to be played without any overly stylistic craftings and interpretations. They get that. It was wonderful.
Opening band Sleuth shared that same spirit too. They took a direction towards different guitar craftings. I was reminded of riffs I could get lost in like off of Sonic Youth's "Teenage Riot." Though, like Sonic Youth, interpreting hardcore music in their own way, more classic influences shone through via Ian McKaye and Fugazi.
So, less romantic, and more direct. Also, lead singer Jacob happens to craft his own amps. Apparently they worked well.
I'm not trying to be that cool name-dropping reviewer. I just think that all of the bands playing last night use their influences well, giving them the brownie points they deserve for these direct comparisons. Malted brownie points.
Vivian Pikkles and The Sweethearts Über Alles came on next. Soundcheck was pretty much nonexistent last night, which worked well for all of the bands. [Note: Rocks Off contributor April Brem Patrick is Vivian Pikkles -- ed.]
They are a fun classic punk band, covering the likes of The Runaways, Velvet Underground and the Cure, and then bursting out into songs about food, drinking and fun, and other things of that nature. They have an album called Boys, Beers, Burgers.
They're basically good times galore.
Personal Bias: Nay. I keep it honest with you guys.
The Crowd: A good variety. The lead singer of Terry Malts was openly supporting the two opening bands, headbanging to both of their sets.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Akjhdfksdnvlskd skdfjnklok kjs." That's what I may have heard. The music was too loud for any conversation.
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Random Notebook Dump: Because of Houston's noise ordinance, I guess, Mango's has transformed into a strange maze.