Thursday, February 14, 2013

Austin's Next: The Blistering Speeds

The Blistering Speeds are an Austin based quartet that fuse fuzzed-out, paranoid alternative pop with sweeps of psychedelia and post-punk gloom. Brought together by their admiration for the Smashing Pumpkins, Scotty Loewen (vocals, guitar) and Al Wilkes (guitar, backing vocals) teased the idea of starting a tribute band but instead birthed their own alternative rock brand which quickly caught local attention and the ear of producer/engineer Ross Ingram of Star Dot Star Records. After numerous trips to The Busy Box in Dallas with Jimmie Lundie (Bass) and Stephen Bidwell (drums), their debut album Casablanca is a State of Mind was ready for unveiling.

Casablanca is a State of Mind is about paranoia and suspicion, which looms heavily in their often frantic sound that's drenched in waves of throbbing guitars, pummeling drums, and murky bass lines. The album has a big 90s alternative rock feel with nods to the signature distorted fuzz of early Smashing Pumpkins, Hum's oscillating song construction, and the Pixies' raw pop vibes; however, TBS keeps it from feeling derivative by adding their own evolving moxy.

While Casablanca is a State of Mind has a string of strong singles, it's an album that's best heard all together in one sitting. I enjoyed The Blistering Speeds' louder and more aggressive songs like SP5G, Acca of Hexham, Here She Comes, Camp No, and These Wounds Suggest a Struggle the mostbut the Black Francis solo-like Travelers and A Cruel Reversal provided a nice change of scenery. Besides my admiration for the noisy and prickly guitars, I also enjoyed Scotty Loewen's gritty whine that sits somewhere between Black Francis and Travis Morrison and morphs from melody to malice just as easy as the former. It will be interesting to see if the band continues to build on the more lush, atmospheric embellishments heard in SPG5 (2:41...), Camp No (3:03...), These Wounds Suggest a Struggle (2:39-4:02), and parts of An Event, because the ebb and flow between the in-your-face fuzz and the serene, spacey streams causes the mind to work at blistering speeds, and listeners need more of that.

Hit the read more button below to watch a live performance of Acca of Hexham on the balcony at Maggie Mae's.