By: Ginny Yang
Although the Negatones have been around since the late-’90s, the electro-noise-rock collective has only just released its first full-length disc. Their self-titled debut is a high-speed exploration of influences that include glam rock (the sneering vocals of “And So My Troubles Begin”), funk (the squealing horns of “The Godfather”), and alt-country (the acoustic balladry of “Oh Yeah [Oh No]”). The Moog addicts demonstrate their range within the course of 30 minutes, packing “Insomnia/At the Far End of the Dial” with spastic beats and launching into thundering reverb-soaked vocals in “Clarity.” On album opener “Paused Upon the Rewind,” the quartet delivers oblique lyrics over zippy melodies. “I kept my enemies so close they’re now my friends,” sings frontman Jay Braun, “which makes my friends my enemies once again.”
The Brooklyn natives started their collaboration from a basement studio, surrounded by analog equipment and razor-cut scraps of tape. Following Jay’s stint playing bass on the Mooney Suzuki’s North American tour, he and his brother Justin began producing tracks with artists ranging from the Fiery Furnaces to Chuck D. The DIY duo recruited guitarist Jun Takeshta for their lineup, and the group proved to be equally comfortable crafting experimental indie-pop jams as it was recreating epic hair metal riffs. (In fact, drummer Jesse Wallace joined the outfit after hearing the band play Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” at a local gig.) With layers of manic instrumentals giving their cheeky lines an added jolt, the Negatones tie up the loose wires of their varied influences, producing results that are positively electric.
The Negatones play NYC’s Pianos on Jan. 27.