Review Summary: An unabashedly fun stab at spacey stoner punk.
With such acclaimed bands as The White Stripes, The Black Keys and Big Business getting plenty of publicity, the option of guitar-and-drums duo has recently become increasingly popular in rock music. The possibility of doing more with less has also appealed to two Ontario-based musicians who decided to form Indian Handcrafts almost ten years ago. It was only a matter of time for Brandyn Aikins and Daniel Allen to get noticed and sign a record deal with high-profile Sargent House.
The result is a thrilling debut disc that effectively displays the unique style of this two-piece. In a nutshell, Civil Disobedience For Losers
fuses titanic riffs of sludge metal with punk-inflicted song structures and an occasional detour into space rock. It's an unabashedly fun record that may be indebted to the ground-breaking work of Melvins, yet it has its own fairly discernible style highlighted by no-frills production by famed Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business).
One aspect that distinguishes Indian Handcrafts from a multitude of bands loosely tagged as stoner rock is that their songs are equally adept at bringing on swampy, groovy-as-hell riffs as well as swift, if often eccentric vocal harmonies that make the record distinctly accessible. Breezy boogie romp of “Red Action” and highly infectious vintage rock of “Coming Home” showcase how widely alluring this disc might be.
The duo also does a great job at balancing a heavy rock onslaught with layers of delay-heavy guitar play which provides their songs with a psychedelic vibe. “Starcraft” is an impeccable showcase of such tendencies merging biting funk rock with spacey guitar effects akin to Hawkwind. Instrumental “Truck Mouth” serves as an even more straightforward space rock reference brimming with splendidly unravelling guitar leads.
Although Aikins and Allen are not exceedingly adventurous when it comes to dynamics keeping their songs brief and to the point, there are numerous surprises to be found like some rather inspired gospel singing midway through “Bruce Lee” or a jazzy breakdown that brings a sense of relief to otherwise crazed “Zombies.” Due to this high level of songwriting dexterity, the album never feels pretentious bringing in equal amounts of good humour and precisely conceived riff attack.
Civil Disobedience For Losers
may not exactly be a perfect record: there still seems to be some room for improvement especially in the song craft department. However, its blend of potentially unrelated genres feels no less than refreshing. Indian Handcrafts have come up with a highly addictive fusion of stoner and punk rock that needs to be explored more thoroughly in the future. For now, this is a bloody promising debut.