Once upon a time, the singer of a garage rock band (the DC Snipers, if you’re curious) decided to pursue an anonymous solo project centered around echoing vocals, massively distorted guitars, and a crummy drum machine. It would also be perfectly acceptable to say that it revolved around one or two decent hooks per song, a sneer, and a practiced vacancy. By 2007, Blank Dogs had captured the hearts of record collectors, hip bloggers, and college radio music directors alike, and spawned at least a dozen varyingly interesting imitators. Alabama’s Wizzard Sleeve is one of the longer-lasting gloom-besotted synthpunk revivalists, and they’re coming to the Mortville warehouse in Little Village this Friday to release their first LP on local punk powerhouse HoZac Records.
Memorably describing themselves as “Confederate glue goth tard-wave,” Wizzard Sleeve is led by Captain Beyonce’s unexpectedly wide vocal range, backed by three other misfits on indeterminate synths and a shuffling bass. Everything sounds like it’s sprayed in cough syrup and shellac. It’s simplistic without being minimal and dark without being suicidal and it’s good music for drinking caffeinated malt liquor. You don’t lose much playing it over laptop speakers. Since 2006, they’ve released one 7” of their own as well as splits with Static Static (with whom they’ll play at Mortville), Amber Alerts (fellow blankdoggers and Alabamans), and Livefastdie, and have appeared on the (distressingly self-explanatory) Wild About Jenkem! compilation.
Unsurprisingly, their touring partners are mostly cut from the same shroud. Californian trio Static Static combine a drum machine with the live thing, though their sound leans more towards incoming warm jets than catacomb crawls. TV Ghost’s squalid, repetitive approach to being bummed-out verges on the humorless. Then there’s FNU Ronnies, a crew of belligerently inscrutable Philadelphians. Bad vibes and harsh tones are the unifying factors in this scene, and it oozes out of everything it touches.
With that in mind, it’s on second thought a little unfair to attribute so much influence to Blank Dogs. In large part you can explain his approach as reaction to the explosion of guitar-heavy garage rock microscene in the past few years. Cold beats and searing distortion are pretty much the opposite of the poppy (and of late, popular) stylings of the Black Lips or the King Khan & BBQ Show. But then again, there’s a lot of continuity between the garage and the Glue Wave. The melodies are simple and the instrumentation is primitive. We’re not talking about a transcendent experience here, but as shows for a rainy Friday night go, Wizzard Sleeve is a winning bet.
Third floor, Mortville, 2106 S. Kedzie Ave. October 2. Friday, 8pm. Free, but donations accepted. myspace.com/inmortville