Following a discography that throws you into the depths of a murky swamp, Axis: Sova‘s third full-length album, Shampoo You, shapes the nostalgic sound of dirty punk music into a unique and rather cleansing experience. At a first glimpse, you might be asking yourself the same question I did, “Is this just a credible jam band?” Well, for starters, there’s no doubt about it… but with every release, Chicago-based Axis: Sova prove themselves to be one of the stronger suits of musical improvisation.
Released on November 16th via Drag City’s God? Records, the key interest of Shampoo You lives within the backbone of the record. From their very first release, Axis: Sova has been made notorious for existing as a sludge-rock band without an actual drummer. In turn, those consistently on-time snare hits are generated by a Roland TR66 Rhythm Arranger, an attribute brought to life by the band’s founder, Brett Sova. In an older interview for It’s Psychedelic Baby! Magazine, Sova discusses the origins of Axis: Sova, a guitar-solo project he began writing for in 2009.
“Most songs do come out of jamming, eventually getting more and more composed over a riff or chord progression that gets stuck in the fingers, and stuck in the mind,” Sova states on his song writing process.
Axis: Sova emerges as a trio with the release of Shampoo You, including guitarist Tim Kaiser and bassist Jeremy Freeze. Perhaps their routine is a little different now, but they kept the same fiery core of distorted tones layered over automated clicks. Sova’s vocals still echo and shout throughout this record like the last, the six string solos still ring in your ears as expected. However, on this latest release, Axis: Sova introduce a fresh perspective and new type of clarity to their signature sound. Unlike the band’s harsher introductory albums, Shampoo You is a surprisingly melodic stroll through painted, overgrown fields of fuzz.
“Dodger” is a notable track for it’s distinct showcase of vintage riffs and a metronome-like beat. Everything about this song highlights the album’s cleaner production, right down to the distant vocal harmonies and looped percussion.
“New Disguise” and “Crystal Predictor” are both great examples of Axis: Sova’s acid-punk influence, but I believe that this band works hard to create an individual genre within themselves. You won’t find another song quite like “Stale Green”, which happens to harbor one of the most impressive guitar solos of the entire release. You’ll definitely never hear anything like “Shock Recognition”, a track dedicated to choppy rhythms and well-executed feedback.
Finally presenting a slower tempo on that tireless rhythm arranger, “Same Person Twice” is a fitting closure to a fast-paced adventure. Being my personal favorite of seven, this track gives great insight into the mood that Axis: Sova is busy setting on Shampoo You.
This entire record could be labeled as an abrasive, yet melancholic, salute to the bending world of psychedelic music. Stepping out of the shower with a shiny head of hair, Axis: Sova has not only strengthened their idiosyncratic authority, but they’ve clearly expanded it as well.
Listen to the new record and let Axis: Sova cleanse your own thoughts on gritty distortion. You can buy or stream Shampoo You HERE.
All media is respectfully owned by Axis: Sova. Photo credit: Grant Engstorm.
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