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Album Review: The Quiet Americans – Medicine

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We first wrote about Fresno quartet The Quiet Americans to cover their single “Weird Mountain”, whose cacophonous din is amplified by the band’s signature lo-fi recording equipment. Their Tascam 8-track gives them personality and, for the most part, diversity-with the notable exception of the drums, which beat almost the same on every track-within their six-song debut EP, Medicine, while maintaining a coherent sonic ethos. Medicine stands out as contemporary noise rock, but on future releases, The Quiet Americans might benefit from increased production value, if for nothing else than to allow them to evolve as a band.

Pointed riffs on the “bourgeois fantasy” of a beach house sneak through the hazy “Summer House”, whose carnival organs hearken back to psych-rock’s early days. Like much of Medicine, it “marr[ies] happy melodies to darker lyrics,” according to vocalist Luke Giffen. Opener “Be Alone” also buoys Giffen’s accusation that “you never do what’s right/always looking for an alibi” with simple, fuzzy guitars.

“Medicine Girl” evokes summer pop like Wild Nothing or Real Estate with dreamy chords, but reverb drowns out Giffen’s voice, souring the track’s potential to be too sweet. “Selia” almost acts as the introduction to “Medicine Girl”: Giffen sings about a girl (quite possibly a witch) with “crooked teeth and long brown hair” who administers “a lethal dose.” Less straightforward than its follower, “Selia”‘s distortion squeals around a similarly boisterous kick drum.

Penultimate track “Falling” best sums up Medicine’s abrasion in just over two minutes, making it also the album’s shortest track. Terse guitars are tightly married to the drums and Giffen’s yodeling delivery, save for a rockabilly breakdown toward the end of the track and a pause, not unlike a sigh, just before. With variations like those in Medicine‘s rhythms and distortion that risk sounding repetitive, The Quiet Americans’ pseudo-psychedelia will, like their Tascam, withstand the test of time.

Essential Tracks: “Medicine”, “Be Alone”

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