There is a cultural, dad-inherited fondness for flipping through AM radio channels while driving late at night. Among the usual mix of sports and religious radio, you’ll sometimes get a signal that bounces down from far away bringing a magical moment (before you lose it) of good music from who knows where.
The Crooked Rugs’ new LP, THAT! is what you’ve been searching for on that AM dial all of these years – something that manages to sound otherworldly and familiar at the same time. In their follow up to January’s IT!, the band draws from every era of psychedelic rock, further refining their sound.
Most albums these days are constructed haphazardly — a collection of songs to be chopped up and repackaged into Spotify playlists. THAT!, though, seems to have an intentional structure, starting out intense and frenetic, then pensive and thoughtful before devolving into chaos on “Slugface,” the final song.
Tracks like “Brain Squash” and “Big Groove” are dominated by crunchy guitars, heavy bass and distorted vocals, reminiscent of modern psych-garage rock acts like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Ty Segall and Osees.
“Everything You See,” the first song to surface after the torrential grooves of the first few tracks, is propelled by interweaving electric piano and rock organ. Whether consciously or not, the band channels first-wave psychedelic rock — somewhere between Jefferson Airplane and the Doors.
Though definitely more jammy and less math-y than IT!, there are still a few tracks that showcase the bands’ musicianship. “Say It Again” sounds like a Dave Brubeck and the Moody Blues collaboration, and “Jams To Fall Asleep To” is a post-rock diversion with babbling synths and reverby guitars.
In the end, THAT! isn’t quite as focused as the Crooked Rugs previous effort, but that’s the beauty of it. Er, that. THAT! sounds like you just happened to walk in off the street to witness a group of excellent musicians on an inspired, peyote-infused 40-minute session. The band clearly can’t stop making music, and we clearly can’t stop tuning in through the static.