Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Rise Above Records
In addition to having a keenly honed knack for riff-driven/pop-tinged sugar-and-sludge psychedelia, Kevin Starrs does atmosphere better than anybody working in heavy music today. As creative force and sole constant member of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, his albums play like 70mm cult horror classics bootlegged onto well-worn VHS cassettes, casting their cathode ray glow over otherwise darkened bedrooms. The colors are vibrant but washed-out, it’s warbly and more than a little distorted, the on-screen movements leave tracers, and the whole thing has just enough fuzz and static on it to seem genuinely creepy. Acid-steeped, with a heavy dose of psychopaths, brainwashers, and a ready steady flow of that red red kroovy, the Uncle Acid canon is a grindhouse marathon for the mind’s eye. The latest opus from Starrs and Co., Wasteland, brings the “post-apocalyptic dystopia” genre into the oeuvre, a tale of walled cities, mindless masses, piped-in propaganda, and hidden computer discs filled with long-forgotten memories and perhaps the keys to freedom. The premise may sound prog, but the execution is blessedly pure classic rock hesh.
Starrs spent a large chunk of last year remastering and reconfiguring the band’s legendary 2010 demo Vol 1, and it seems like that work rubbed off on Wasteland; it plays up the fuzz and vintage keyboards like nothing they’ve released since, and no matter how solid and heavy the rock gets, you’re never too far from something swirly and woozy. An ominous voiceover leads to slashing power chords on the opener “I See Through You,” giving way to a pulsing bassline and those ever-familiar Uncle Acid double-tracked harmony vocals. “Shockwave City” is a meaty-riffed, phase-shifted shoutalong stomper, the uptempo charger “Blood Runner” sounds like the Deadbeats having a go at Iron Maiden, and lead single “Stranger Tonight” is a slab of psych-pop that could…
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