Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Ar-Kaics' In This Time

Have you ever watched a movie where they show some "archival footage," all scratched up and made to look ancient, but it's not convincing because the quality of the print lacks that patina that the real old stuff has? There are a lot of indie bands out there doing the same thing, making music in 2018 that's supposed to sound like music from 1967, but there's something lost in the translation, something that gives the whole thing away.

When I first received The Ar-Kaics' new album, In This Time, I assumed it was another one of those fabulous Light In The Attic reissues, something found in the vaults of some recording studio that didn't quite gel at the time but now has a real prescient value. The Ar-Kaics' sound is prime late-sixties garage band, heavy on reverb to the point where the buzzing of the guitar amps become a fifth member of the band, and it all sounds like a fantastic discovery from a quartet of musicians who spent their summers learning songs from early The Who, the Velvet Underground and The Animals. But they're not. They're a new band from Virginia, and this is their sophomore album. It's killer.

Yes, the Ar-Kaics have mastered this classic grungy studio sound to the point where even seasoned ears will instantly believe this recording is at least 50 years old. Thanks to producer Wayne Gordon, who's worked with everyone from Black Lips to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, these four young musicians--guitarist/vocalist Kevin Longendyke, guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Johnny Ward, bassist Tim Abbondelo and drummer Patty Conway--have completely mastered garage band sound to the point where this not only feels like a lost classic, it feels like an album that would have been an influential and beloved release if it had come out way back when. Longendyke and Ward's two-guitar attack is simple yet inspired and sounds like something you've heard before but can't put your finger on. The comparison of Conway to Mo Tucker seems a little on the nose, but it's probably intentional since she has such a catchy and primitive style.

The Ar-Kaic's fidelity to this old sound was partially due to the execution. Recorded in just three days in Montrose Studios, In This Time sounds like an album that was caught on the fly, between gigs, since the band needed to pay rent before they were thrown out on the street. If you're a dedicated rock and roll fan and you crave that raw energy that seems to be in short supply among today's indie bands, this album will be a revelation. The songs are strong, memorable and grimy, and you'll keep playing it over and over.

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