Meatbodies start their self-titled debut with a solid minute of feedback on “The Archer”. No catchy hooks. No ferocious guitar riff. No propulsive drums. Conventional wisdom might say that an artist should put a strong track in the leadoff spot, but Chad Ubovich, the main man behind Meatbodies, is anything but conventional. It’s an immediately bold and interesting decision to risk losing the listener’s attention, but those who stick around are rewarded with an LP that’s unabashedly weird and, more importantly, full of vibrant energy. Seriously, look no further for evidence of this than the album cover, which features kaleidoscopic colors and a skull whose eyes appear to be rolling back into its head as its brain melts.
Known for playing guitar (and formerly bass) for Mikal Cronin and bass for Ty Segall’s side project, Fuzz, Ubovich steps out and shines as the leader on Meatbodies. Along the way, Segall, Erik Jimenez of together PANGEA, and producer Eric Bauer help him out. Bauer — who has also worked with the likes of Cronin, Segall, and Thee Oh Sees — certainly lives up to his nickname of the “Riff King” on this record. The result? An album that has Ubovich throw a bunch of guitar influences (garage, punk, psychedelia, and just a hint of metal) at the wall, and most of them stick. It’s the stuff of inordinately sweaty shows in packed, tiny rock clubs.
After the white noise of the first track, Meatbodies launch into the rip-roaring “Disorder”, which bears a raw power reminiscent of the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy”. “Mountain” follows, which begins with a scuzzy, deep bass line and a sprawling guitar solo.
The band impresses most with how they handle tonal shifts (often within songs), from minimalist acoustic guitar to sludgy electric guitar. In fact, the variation in sounds and influences help ensure Meatbodies isn’t an all-out assault on your ears. “Tremmors” opens with sparse strumming, but gives way to a heavy strike. Ubovich’s abstract and distant vocals (“Morphing/ Changing/ Lightning/ Striking/ Down”) punctuate an earth-shattering breakdown before giving way to a searing guitar solo. Similarly, standout track “Wahoo” starts with a low-key riff before the speedy drumbeat enters with Ubovich’s high-pitched yelps.
Although the guitar stands at the forefront of this record, at some points (“Gold”, “Plank”) they overshadow Ubovich’s bizarre, reverb-filled vocals, which beg for more of the spotlight. Regardless, fans of garage, psychedelic rock, and punk will all find something enjoyable to take way from Meatbodies. Moreover, Ubovich has proved he’s worthy of the frontman role — and that no single genre can contain his frenzied guitar work.
Essential Tracks: “Mountain”, “Tremmors”, and “Wahoo”