Garlic

Garlic

The Murky World of Seats

Bella Union

Just in time for the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and having read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in a crash course of a week, I found Garlic’s release to be an oddly strange match for Tolkien’s epic. Indulge me a bit and imagine if those zany hobbits, Merry, Sam, Pippin and Frodo had actually come of age in the mid ’90s, and rocked out in the Shire listening to Pavement, The Pixies, Neil Young and even Lou Reed. Why, they might have cooked up the tracks that appear on Garlic’s debut release, The Murky World of Seats.

The disc opens with the laid back piano ballad “Animals,” which resembles such indie luminaries as Grandaddy with the strange lines “The animals are looking cool again, this night; we might as well as close the school again.” It is a strange little opening track that serves as red herring for the listener as those who expect more of the same will certainly be surprised by the remainder of the album. Perchance, hidden in these wise and witty lyrics scattered throughout this album there lurks a wise narrator skewering the pretense and airs of the indie cognoscenti?

Yet Garlic doesn’t limit themselves to such myopia as the closed-mindedness of various scenes, they address such perennial themes as life after death (“Wheel Set”), the evilness of work (“Cour Gette”), greed (“Pig”), soccer (“Drink Induced Conversations”), and the club scene (“Grey Bear”). Stylistically then, they sprawl all over the indie rock map, picking up various styles but there are solid comparisons to be made to Crooked Rain-era Pavement. What defines their sound so peculiarly is lead singer Mike Wyzgowski’s voice that oscillates between Lou Reed’s speak/singing style and Neil Young’s falsetto. In addition, the pedal steel that accompanies these tracks provides a little bit more space and accent for these tracks to transcend their clear stylistic debts.

For all the evidence that they wear their influence on their sleeves, Garlic certainly makes up for it with passion, wit and style. While on “Cour Gette,” Wyzgowski implores the listener not to waste his or her time on “Doing shit, shit jobs you don’t even like or not at all.” “Slave to the Summer, Son” finds Wyzgowski once again dispensing advice to the listener asking, “Are you ever going to get things done?” A rave up that seems a reworking and updating of Pavement’s “Gold Sounds” for the new century. Towards the end of the album we find them in a straight forward, solemn rocker that evokes the ghostly spectral voice of Roy Orbison with a paean to lost love.

At times sincere and perhaps too somber for some, Garlic certainly proves there are still bands that matter. No matter how many influences they may wear on their sleeves, they demonstrate sufficient talent that their own vision is never entirely watered down or diluted.

Bella Union Records: http://www.bellaunion.com

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