Bug Chaser Bug Chaser bugchaser.bandcamp.com
After a few years' worth of EPs, demos and splits, the many-headed beast known as Bug Chaser released its first formal LP in November. The collection, available digitally, recently saw its release on vinyl, and that's a nice bit of formality for a band built around noisy, entrancing malleability.
On stage, Bug Chaser veers toward spectacle, often swelling beyond the eight members listed on this collection (and that's not including the BDSM specialist they brought onstage at this past fall's Lou Reed tribute). It's a comfort, then, that the band can be as full-bodied, engrossing and occasionally unpredictable on the Bug Chaser LP.
Singer Pat Grosch is able to get your attention even if he's not physically demanding it from the stage; his vocals often stick to a monotone chant (as on the thumping, fittingly named "Motorik Steves") or bloom into a growl, as heard on the set-closing "The Real Jensen." Grosch is mixed a little low in places here, but he's also tasked with rising above seven busy bandmates; sometimes he's just another noise in the fray, and that fits.
Having the vinyl copy of this collection makes it easier to come to terms with what can be a sensory overload. Side one is a touch heavier and more patient, though opener "Hearth in the Dearth" wastes little time in setting up dependable and chunky punk riffs. "CHNOPS," the first of two ten-minute songs, gets the most out of its extended run-time. Its intro of electronic handclaps and an R&B guitar riff serve as a pump-fake to a steadily churning slurry of carnival organ, group vocals and a guitar solo that seems to riff over the whole mess.
Continue to page two for more of our review.
Side two is more direct, which helps the songs run hotter and come across as a leaner, more soul-driven version of what came before. "Orange County Bible," with its competing vocals and disembodied choir, has enough wah-wah guitar and barely-there funk breaks to make you wonder if it's a loving pastiche or a piss-take of Cali grooves. Credit Jake Jones' and Zeng Zengerling's guitar work, which switches from squirrelly metallic leads to quick-wristed funk slashes, as well as Jake Bremler's '60s-indebted keyboard arsenal for making "Sounds of the Mounds" such a flat-out jam.
Across these six songs, the band can get pneumatically funky, thuddingly psychedelic and experimentally thrashy, often in short order. Bug Chaser masters none of these styles, as mastery would suggest one streamlined, agreed-upon direction, and that would be lot more boring that this band's multi-directional assault.
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