The Carlsonics

Out of northern Virginia/Washington, D.C., it comes, a band with malice toward all and goodwill toward none, a mod/neo-garage quintet that kicks more butt than a donkey on a meth binge. Danger leaps from the speakers on every track on their new self-titled CD; abject pandemonium is the second-to-last station on the train tracks the Carlsonics ride. The terminus has no name.

If you've been disappointed by one great big hype after another in this ongoing rock revival of mostly unfulfilled expectations, give The Carlsonics a spin and then come to this show. Loud and big as a battleship barrage, the album opens fire as suddenly with the squalling guitar drone of "The Leisure Class" and reaches an early crescendo on "Tonight We Dine on Fumes," an anthemic and psychedelic trash rocker with punk energy to burn and plenty of '60s spirit to boot.

Part of what separates the Carlsonics from all the overpraised junkers in the garage is their ability to psychedelicize convincingly, a knack also exhibited on the outro of "Senator Trudge and the Clap Division," as well as the extended farewell on album closer "Malaria Drive Through," which ends the album with a delirious abandon that is positively Pentecostal in its righteous and primal fury. Their melodic twin-guitar riffage is also a lot more hummable than most, and while singer Aaron Carlson's Jaggeristic vocal affections can get a little annoying at times, they're never overbearing. Drummer Mike Scutari is a highlight -- he drives the band along with Keith Moon-like anarchy, all unexpected snare rolls and near-constant cymbal wash.

The disc plays live, and what's more, it sounds like it would make for a concert of Riverboat Gamblers-like anarchy. Sure, there's little that's original about the Carlsonics, but there's nothing groundbreaking about the perfect plate of cheese enchiladas, either. Originality takes a backseat to mastery of form in this case, as this album hits the spot. It's a heaping helping of edgy comfort food for the ears. Look for this band to make a few waves, starting right now.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax