Mikal Cronin put on some killer live shows last year surrounding MCII, but while he was singing beautifully and strumming his 12-string, another longhair consistently threatened to steal the spotlight. Chad Ubovich, the touring guitarist responsible for the huge solo on “See It My Way”, has undeniable chops. He’s also the bassist for Fuzz, and it’s the same deal—he does a lot more than just slouch in the background and play the minimum. When this dude takes a solo, you watch. Based on those sideman gigs alone, it makes sense that his band Meatbodies got picked up by In the Red for a pair of singles and a long-player.
Last year, they released a very good self-titled cassette on Ty Segall’s God? Records (as Chad and the Meatbodies). It sold out fairly quickly and, in circles that care about those sorts of things, became one of those instantaneous small batch collector’s items. But with their debut LP, it’s more difficult to view the band as small-press ass-kicking upstarts. Meatbodies was recorded and mixed by Eric “King Riff” Bauer, Bob Marshall, and Chris Woodhouse (who, between the three of them, have worked on every Live in San Francisco release and most Segall, Cronin, Fuzz, and Oh Sees records). The cover art was done by Fuzz and Slaughterhouse artist Tatiana Kartomten. Segall even plays drums and bass on a few tracks here. Meatbodies are embedded in that world, and they’re working within a formula that’s proved successful for their more-visible peers. Comparisons are inevitable; the bar is high.
Pro wrestling heels use the term “B+ player” about guys in Ubovich’s position—rookies who put on a good show but aren’t quite headliners. But he rips, you see, he’s always been a destroyer, and on Meatbodies, he also proves to be an ace rock’n’roll strategist. The tone here is set perfectly: 59 seconds of psychedelic sci-fi noise, and then, very suddenly, Ubovich and Segall come in at full power, electric guitars unrelenting, with “Disorder”. It’s a loud, exciting, kinetic, and brazen introduction. Like Daniel Bryan before him, Ubovich rises to the occasion.
But Meatbodies don’t just blindly hit peak after peak, shredding toward the high heavens uninterrupted for a full album. They pull back and indulge their more psychedelic inclinations, letting Ubovich’s voice shine, lilt, and echo over steady acoustic strumming. When that starts sounding too sterile after a couple minutes, he dirties it up by dropping an electric guitar solo in the middle. While they craft plenty of catchy hooks and choruses over the album’s dozen tracks, they don’t lean on any one thing for long. There’s always a changeup in place. They’ll dismantle a loud and fast song for a sluggish, slow finish. Any band can churn out an exciting two-minute garage punk song and then repeat the formula a few times. Very few artists of this ilk exhibit this much patience, which makes for a continually rewarding listen.
If there’s a clear-cut example of Meatbodies making the upgrade from “band with a tape and some 7″ tracks” to “rock band to watch,” it’s the re-recorded album version of “Wahoo”. The ramshackle stomper is now stadium-ready. (It’s worth checking out the original tape version of that song, too—a fun document of the band’s lo-fi, warbly beginnings.) The track comes late in the album, and when it arrives, Ubovich has already found several opportunities earlier in the LP to show off what he’s capable of as a guitarist. And sure, there’s excellent guitar work on the track, but there’s a clearer focus on the confidence he exhibits as a frontman. He yelps, screams, and croons like a seasoned rock star. “I don’t know and I don’t care,” he sings at the bridge. He does care, though—if he didn’t, Meatbodies wouldn’t sound half this good.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1wx16Se