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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Album Review: Super Giant - "Pistol Star"

Imagine life as a dusty road lizard, basking in the swelter of desert sun and suspiciously leering as distant vehicles pass at a rate of two or three per day. "Man, those dudes are haulin' ass. They're rockin' that fuzz, too. I gotta get outta here." Friendo, the coolest motherfucker on the planet just blew past you at 98 miles per hour, jammin' Super Giant's crunchy 3rd album, Pistol Star. Us 9-to-5'ers sometimes feel a bit like that road lizard, lickin' our own eyeballs and pretending crusty flies still taste awesome. So long as bands like Super Giant keep close, I think we're safe from drowning in the mundane.

I can't tell if 3am is too late or too early, but Tres de la Mañana sounds amazing at any hour. Exuding a swagger only seasoned stoner rollers can brag about, the track steadily smokes out woofers with a low bass thunder and guitar granola. Early November's sting quickly hits behind the nuts, but this opener warms faster than One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.

The ass-kicking, cigarette-burning Emotion hits the trigger like Demon Cleaner as Kyle Erickson's subtle bass sticks to the driver's seat's leather. Scratchy strings are placed perfectly, but the subdued, distant, almost wispy vocals of Joel Rogers perfectly marry the cozy fur-pie rhythm. Don't think he won't growl; the delays are well placed and the track's timing is amazing, but the gravelly pipe steals your awe.

I suppose if you're gonna write a track and call it Revolution, a soundbite from Ché Guevara addressing the UN is as relevant as things get. The real revolution is spilling from your speakers, though. This rhythm hits you in the chest, with Gary Chavez treating his drums like he realizes they'll need replacing soon anyway. The pensive bounce grows to a fierce pinch, perfectly paralleling Rogers's shift from barks to sweet serenades. Revolution marches, snagging followers with each step. Just try to avoid being dragged along.

Now I don't know who the hell Rosey is, but only the meanest of bitches could inspire a track like Rosey Posey. Instrumental pauses smear this Orange Goblin-esque shaker, dropping fuzz like poo dollars. Listeners will drown in this sea of reverb, gasping as the slow sludge tempo ties ten-pound bricks to your heels. The ashy rhythm meets its match with drug-warp licks, but this track is still just starting. Parlor hounds wanna keep talking about poor Rosey. You'll want Super Giant to keep playing.

The spooky, groovy Aries is as much a tumble down a well as it is a dirty fuzz nugget. What saves you from falling to your death is Jeremy McCollum's raw, slicing guitar. Picture some asshole in a suit on television asking "Are you frightened of your day-to-day routine?" Aries enters your life just in time to kill the tedium. The slow QOTSA guitar break will remind you that things don't need to get any better. You stopped giving a shit a long time ago.

Solid pickin', bone-dry rhythms, and dusty saloon sing-alongs permeate the channel-surf of Mexican Radio. Blues riffs and rusty soup-can vocals make for an awesome break in the stoner haze, though you'll still be chuggin' with a Telecaster ardor. McCollum's soloing is cool and relaxed and Joel Rogers manages to dispute this with his disregard for all things incoherent. If this song isn't available on small-town jukeboxes, small-town jukeboxes are obsolete.

Sticky bass and corridor cat-calls kick off the awesome, 7-minute title track. As the tide rolls in, you'll sense a burn doctors won't even try to explain. The fuzz comes full-circle, only to let the spook creep in and lay down a sewer drain picnic. This is Super Giant's heaviest, furriest, most courageous effort yet. Every note seems to expand, every second seems to swell, and every emotion seems to creep further into unexamined and unwelcome space.

Albums like this are dangerous. What I hear is four dudes doing exactly what they want, doing it well, and getting the desired response from fans. Maybe mouth-breathers like me are the problem when folks no longer believe a revolution is possible. But I have to think there's still something that can get attention and make a difference. Even a tiny revolution like thwarting Nickelback's Thanksgiving NFL halftime set is bound to make America better. But hating Nickelback isn't enough. LOVING bands like this is essential. Super Giant have found a formula for restoring our vigor. All they had to do was write seven brilliant songs.

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