Santa Cruz, California-based rock outfit CrashMonkeys recently unveiled their debut EP, Love & Kicks, a five-track collection of lo-fi rock.
Vocalist/guitarist Stel Furet explains, “These are songs for drinking lots of coffee and driving fast to.”
Made up of Furet (vocals, guitar, bass, songwriting) and Chuck Keller (guitar, bass), the twosome’s guitar styles balance each other, with Furet being a bluesy player and Keller coming from a melodic shred background. The two have not made a decision on a drummer yet.
At once raw and edgy, CrashMonkeys’ sound conjures up suggestions of Pavement, Daniel Johnston and Beat Happening, and Sonic Youth with doses of ‘70s James Gang boogie tossed in for seasoning.
The EP begins with “Lo-Fi Betty’s,” a strutting tune dripping with sleazy blues guitars blended with hints of funk and glam rock. Highlighted by lysergic, drawling vocals imbuing the lyrics with grimy timbres, the song rides a loose, rambling rhythm.
“You know that Betty lived the New Wave scene / Now her tastes are more like lo-fi clean / And the waitress wearing Aberdeen / Her coffee cups are squeaky clean.”
Entry points include “Dangerous,” a track about which Furet says, “It’s really just my obsession with coffee turned into a song.” Gritty, garage-rock guitars give the tune a visceral, granular essence as Furet’s chaffing vocals infuse the lyrics with primal sensuality.
“Then I saw you / Breakfast table at Lo-Fi Betty’s / Making love to your biscuits and gravy / A big gorilla on your arm.”
Stripped down and drenched in dirty guitars atop an atavistic, thumping rhythm, “Sugar” boils with reckless, risky dynamism. “Betty’s Again,” a blues-flavored, psychedelic-tinted tune with hints of country rock, ties off the EP. There’s a relaxed, Grateful Dead-like flow to the harmonics, giving the song a deliciously grubby feel.
Unprocessed and teeming with sonic guts, Love & Kicks boasts the cocky braggadocio and authenticity missing from contemporary rock.