Posted on November 22nd, 2013 (10:00 am) by Travis Boyer

Garage rock is often perceived as lacking the gravitas for a place at the rock and roll table. It’s often looked at as a half-baked attempt by weekend rockers and nothing more. However, in disregard of what the rock and roll gatekeepers may think, garage rock is where most artists cut their teeth. Polyvinyl Records’ latest compilation exemplifies the best qualities of what garage rock from the San Francisco area and beyond has to offer in this compilation, I Need You Bad.

What follows are a collection of songs that are simple, carefree, and aren’t a chore to listen to. If you’re looking for rock with a jagged edge to it, move along. If you’re looking for independent artists laying down some great tracks on what at times sounds like a cheap reel to reel tape recorder, then explore what I Need You Bad has to offer.

Leading off is Oakland’s Warm Soda with “Tell Me In a Whisper.” With hints of surf rock, Warm Soda lay down an excellent drum beat that effectively ramps up the waves with reverberating vocals. The muffled sound quality speaks to the simplicity of the lo-fi feel. Another highlight from San Francisco is Cool Ghouls’ “Hot Summer,” which sounds like a track from the bygone era of 1960s garage rock infused with sweeping surf rock rhythms. It is a dance-worthy track that disc jockeys would have been spinning in regularity as a groovy, carefree tune. It’s that throwback vibe that makes “Hot Summer” a keeper for its nostalgia.

Taking a page from the psychedelic playbook, Burnt Ones (of Indianapolis) offer up “Premonition,” which delves deep into the supernatural with references like “crystal ball.” Echoing guitars and grinding riffs accent the droning, drowsy vocals of singer Mark Tester that gives off a trance-like feeling. Midway through, the melody collapses to a dull roar only to build back up in intensity with the refrain of drummer Amy Crouch chanting, “now I feel it everywhere,” as “Premonition” thrashes its way onto the other side. Continuing with the spiritualism angle, “Miracle of Life” by Magic Trick is a celebratory song in which its pride bleeds through the underwater sounding vocals that ripple with each rise in emotion in the singer’s voice. The aforementioned pride is evident, which makes this song a winner for its genuine sincerity.

I Need You Bad is the epitome of a compilation, the very best of what the genre has to offer. There is nothing here that feels like it’s been pre-packaged and overdone. This collection’s ingenuity and simplicity are what make it a winner.

Track List:
1. Tell Me in a Whisper - Warm Soda
2. Higher - The Memories
3. Hot Summer - Cool Ghouls
4. Thine Eyes - Pure Bliss
5. Those Drawings I Told You About – Sonny & The Sunsets
6. Dreams - Jessica Pratt
7. Far Away Place - Earth Girl Helen Brown
8. Premonition – Burnt Ones
9. Miracle of Life – Magic Trick
10. Open Theme - Chris Cohen
11. Wash - Fronds
12. All Alone House - Little Wings
13. Honey Goes - Wet Illustrated
14. Why Do You Want to Throw a Brick? - Sunfoot
15. Sun in Rain - The Sandwitches

Polyvinyl Records, Warm Soda, Cool Ghouls, Burnt Ones
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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75 / 100
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