Review Summary: True 'buried treasure', and sure to entertain anyone who gives it a listen.'Eternal wonders of space and time. The faraway dreams and mysteries of other worlds, other life. The stars, the planets. Man has been face to face for them for centuries. Yet is barely able to penetrade their unknown secrets. Sometime, someday, the barrier will be pierced. Why must we wait? Why not... now?'
So begins 'Taxidermist Surf', the first track of the first album from Auburn, Alabama's premier punk/sci-fi/surf rock/tesla coil wielding weirdos-in-residence, before plunging into a high-speed Morricone guitar riff, drums clattering crisply in the background, bass galloping gamely on behind. It's an exhilarating start, somehow ultra-tight yet ragged, showcasing how much better these guys sound recorded in front of an audience. From then on, the tempo hardly lets up, with the quartet, including one 'Coco the Electric Monkey Wizard' on bass, blast through 14 songs in just under 40 minutes. Almost completely vocal-free, except for the raucous 'Mermaid Love' and the ubiquitous and often hilarious samples at the start of most tracks (the schlock-horror voiceovers bookending the storming 'Invasion of the Dragonmen' being a particular highlight), these tracks are rudimentary, almost Shadows-esque in parts, but somehow add up to more than the sum of their parts, managing to be strangely compelling and never boring.
Take 'Nitrous Burnout': once again starting off with a great sample, this time a driver from the Indy 500 narrating a cautionary tale about the dangers of nitro ('and then they blow all to hell!') before frantic drum fills-the drummer, 'Birdstuff', is a major boost to the album- introduce a bass-led riff, with distorted guitar drones and engine revs and growls filling in over the top. The overall sound is punchy and exciting, almost making you forget that the track is essentially the same as the first two.
Which is then where we come on to the album's main problem-repetition. Though they have a pretty damm unique sound, over 14 tracks that sound is hardly ever varied, which can make the more mundane tracks at the back end of the album a bit of a slog ('Eric Estrotica', 'Escape Through the Air Vent'), and when they do try to stretch out, the results can be varied (the massively overlong 'Alien Visitors'). On the other hand, the fantastically titled 'Sadie Hawkins Atom Bomb' adds more of a 60s spy film feel, mitt
funky bassline, and the catchy 'Human Calculator' experiments with more poppy progressions and sample-hooks to decent effect, proving the potential for development which would be showcased on later, more ambitious albums such as 'EEVIAC' and 'Experiment Zero'.
In conclusion (how quaint in this age of Pitchfork concept reviews!), this is an album anyone with an interest in quirky or weird music should check out, especially for fans of the surf-rock genre-Not fantastic all at once, but great in small doses. In addition, sound quality is surprisingly uniformly excellent for a live album, with minimum crowd noise as a bonus. or maybe it was just that no-one turned up....