The Wastemen’s September Debut Album “The Wastemen EP” is an absolute and in-your-face introduction to the crowded garage rock scene. The Wastemen’s tasteful use of psychedelic and post-punk elements gives their album a refreshing uniquity capable of carrying it out of the fray.
This EP has not yet failed to remind me of Sonic Youth after each listen. By pairing clean and plucky guitar verses with crunchy and pedal-ridden choruses, a majority of the tracks become almost unsettlingly atmospheric. Lyrics in tracks like Ghost seamlessly weave the clean and crunchy ends of the spectrum into a whirling storm of vivid sound. When voiced through a specific tone and pattern, the lyrics attain a new level of vitality. The raspy and half-spoken vocals output a load of emotion while simultaneously retaining cool control over a massive wave of chords. It’s utter chaos on a short leash: a sound that demands more than simply yelling into the microphone. Lyrics in tracks like Dead Rat regularly follow the melody of a beat-driven guitar riff. This made the song slightly more catchy than others, yet it still maintained authenticity to the project’s overall sound. Providing a song that “sticks” is important, especially for a debut album. The Wastemen’s account for such subtleties sheds an immense spotlight on their familiarity with a long overlooked subgenre.
The “messy” approach used in Big Beef was a great way to start the EP and introduce the project’s core theme and sound. It quickly became my favorite track on the album, as listening to it makes me anticipate the tracks to follow. The lead-in slowly buckles the listener into their seat as their foot starts to tap. By the time you hit the thirty second mark, the tapping stops and you realize you’re in for a wild ride. The song breaks into a flurry of sound coming from every direction; yet, each instrument maintains a healthy contrast and respective tone, giving each sound a sense of identity and purpose. Rather than taking the beaten punk path and describing a scenario, The Wastemen sing of “Big Beef”, a characterization of the “meathead jock” stereotype. Despite using only a handful of short lines, The Wastemen’s masterful use of tone has the listener picturing that one guy from high school. Big Beef places The Wastemen at the center of outsider/punk ideology, and unexpectedly impressed me with it’s ability to covertly spur some long forgotten memories.
I am particularly fond of the Wastemen’s experimentation with reverb, audio filters/distortion, and various genres. Venturing beyond a strict formula in their debut EP shows us that they’re not afraid to play with whatever is available. Bold willingness to actually step outside of the box is what makes this band a black sheep in the garage rock herd. I think the early-phase style of mixing fittingly coincides with what The Wastemen EP is all about. The fundamental attitude reflected in the album would’ve likely dissipated had it been professionally recorded in a high-end studio. The consequent post-garage sound is a testament to the fact that they will not be limited by their tools.
The garage rock party has finally been crashed. Although The Wastemen just arrived, their debut EP tells me they don’t plan on leaving any time soon.