Psychotropic - Los Tones (Off The Hip/Groovie Records)
Here it is folks - this is the sound the “cool kids” make these days. “Cool kids” being what the wearers would dismissive as a totally pejorative term, but essentially being a title for whatever constitutes a “scene maker” in these musically fractured times. “Scene” being another pejorative word.
It’s hard to keep up with contemporary music once you pass a certain age - even when you’re consciously trying to cock an ear to what seeps out of cracks in the footpath and shuns daylight. Of course it’s a given that you shouldn’t pay attention to just about ANYTHING that makes it to commercial radio airwaves, but in this case "contemporary" means the underground shit, maaan. And Los Tones are under the commercial radar by any measure.
Arising from the remnants of Sydney bands La Mancha Negra, Mother & Son and Glitter Canyon (the former a mystery to me but the first two familiar enough), Los Tones play dischordant, slightly tuneless garage rock with trebly guitar, warped vocals, muddy drums and bass that sounds like it was recorded on beat-up equipment in a lounge room. In other words, exactly what the under 25s listen to at warehouse gigs and house parties that would never make it into the Thursday daily newspaper gig guide (if such a thing existed any more.)
Is it a surprise to find out Owen Penglis (Straight Arrows) recorded and mixed “Psychotropic” and Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring) mastered it? They’re elder statesmen in the current wave of this music. Or is it a shock that Off the Hip, the label that’s an Aussie rallying point for gritty garage punk, released it? Thought not.
Meandering rhythms, a spot of harmonica and lashings of surf and psychedelic guitar peg these 11 songs as having roots in the ancient soils of the ‘50s and ’60s. Penglis has conjured a dry and warm sound with two guitars laid on thick. BB Gunn’s whiney vocals are buried and absent from a couple of instrumentals, the last of which (“Ghost”) collapses in squalls of white noise and what might be a distorted sax. “Speedboat” chugs along on nimble bass before burning up in chunky tremolo guitar.
“Cry” is a slice of Remains-style pop wearing shades and draped in a black cape. “Buchan Hammer” (a single) is close enough to singalong pop while “One Horse Race” borrows from the Fe-Fi-Four’s “I Wanna Come Back From the Land of LSD” without sounding like it’s stealing. If you like the Black Lips or Frowning Clouds you’ll love Los Tones.
Fuck being a cool kid. This stuff is for the old farts too. Get a large helping before Triple Jay catches on. As if that’s going to happen but you get the idea. It's on CD on Off The Hip and vinyl on Portugese label Groovie Records or you can grab it on Bandcamp.