Ganglians: “Monster Head Room”

I’m not necessarily the best judge of which bands are likely to make some kind of significant hipster/commercial breakthrough. But listening to this Ganglians album, “Monster Head Room”, on Woodsist, it surely makes sense that they should be right at the forefront of this new indie/lo-fi/garage scene that’s coming out of the States right now.

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I’m not necessarily the best judge of which bands are likely to make some kind of significant hipster/commercial breakthrough. But listening to this Ganglians album, “Monster Head Room”, on Woodsist, it surely makes sense that they should be right at the forefront of this new indie/lo-fi/garage scene that’s coming out of the States right now.



Thus far, I haven’t been that crazy about many of the records thus labelled: mild enjoyment of, say, Girls or The Soft Pack or whatever, coupled withsome bemusement at precisely the level of hype they’ve been attracting. Ganglians come from Sacramento, and seem to be affiliated with the better, gnarlier end of the scene (on their myspace, notable friends include Eat Skulls, The Hospitals, Wet Hair, The Intelligence and Psychedelic Horseshit. And poor old Wavves, too).

Ganglians music, however, is sweeter and more accessible than most of those. There’s a big Beach Boys influence – with no feedback to obscure it – that immediately comes to the fore on the a capella harmonised opener, “Something Should Be Said” – very much in the vein of “Our Prayer” or, perhaps, Animal Collective’s “You Don’t Have To Go To College”. The influence of Animal Collective’s re-imagining of The Beach Boys recurs in the exceptional “The Void”, again reminiscent of something hazy and gibbering from “Sung Tongs”.

“Candy Girl”, meanwhile, has the good idea of going somewhere strangely neglected by lo-fi Wilson devotees, namely the shaky and intimate sounds of “The Beach Boys Love You”. It’s a neat fit.

Elsewhere, Ganglians call to mind – possibly accidentally – the lilting zing of Vampire Weekend (“Voodoo”) and the snarky and yet more melodramatic end of modern garage epitomised by Black Lips (“Valient [Sic] Brave”). Their strongest suit, however, can be found in a couple of mellow, goofy strumalongs, “Lost Words” and standout track “Cryin’ Smoke”, which initially reminded me vaguely of a cross between the Lemonheads and The Go-Betweens, and now strikes me as sounding rather like the Australian band who ostensibly were a cross between the Lemonheads and The Go-Betweens, Tom Morgan’s Smudge. Not the most obvious reference for a band with crossover potential, perhaps, but these are good songs, played right.

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