Key track: “BPPAM (feat. Anna Barie)”
Skull Practitioners, out of New York, aren’t ones that are going to try to align with genres. Their debut tape may only be four songs, but it packs a few different punches. The band alternates between garage rock and psychedelia, channeling and coupling two opposing forces of the 70’s. The band uses alternating throwbacks to make music that’s instantly both familiar and unique. And, more importantly, they’re rocking, loudly.
Skull Practitioners are, first and foremost, a rock band. Whether they’re angled towards garage-punk or something trippier, they’re loud, in a classic rock sense. This is evident on all four songs, but especially on the second track “Nelson D,” recorded live in The Grand Victory. The song is instrumental; a pseudo-jam that has all the elements of classic garage-rock. The guitars and vocals are distorted, the volume is turned up, and the drums are fast and snare-heavy. “Nelson D” feels ripped out of a garage in 1977. Likewise, final track “Another Sicko (feat. Tom Derwent)” is a lot more psychedelic-based, but still ups the volume. It’s longer and slower, taking it’s time to flesh out some psychedelic ideas, while keeping the muzzled vocals of traditional garage rock.
The band seems to have a knack for writing throwback songs, equal parts classic rock and garage-punk. The tape’s opener and best song, “BPPAM,” has a serious garage-rock vibe, while holding onto some more traditional classic rock vocals from Anna Barie. It’s a strong and energetic song, bolstered by the great guest spot. “Foreign Wives,” meanwhile, seems to combine all of the band’s elements. The vibrato guitar rhythm with the cymbal-heavy drum beat adds a very DIY sense to the music. The whole song has an early punk feel to it, without ever actually sounding like it.
The tape’s only fault is not having any sort of real cohesiveness. All four of the songs are great in their own right, but it does feel like a collection. A live track comes second, with two studio tracks after. But it’s a first release, and in a weird way, it all fits. Skull Practitioners are not revolutionizing rock music, simply finding their place within it. By combining some established but combative influences, they’re working towards creating their own, unique sound, one that rocks and stays moderately consistent. The tape may not strive for originality, but it is a solid, loud, and heavy rock release that simply does as all rock records should.
The tape can be streamed and downloaded here.
-By Andrew McNally