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Jody Seabody & the Whirls – Holographic Slammer (Artificial Head)

Jody Seabody & the Whirls - Holographic Slammer
24 August 2016

This Houston foursome’s 2014 “Some Change” two-song 7” single, which I called “primal, ferocious garage-punk” in issue 75, was a drastic departure over the “psych/emo-tinged rock” of their 2012 debut LP Summer Us. At the time, I thought this stylistic “sea” change was necessitated by the need for a new focus, following the tragic death of their 23-year-old bassist Matt Johnston from heart failure just before the album’s release. However, given that this sophomore LP deviates in so many directions from the single, despite no change in the lineup since then, it’s not a stretch to surmise that the band’s status as hard-to-pin-down chameleons has been there all along. (Again, I’m still not sure who Jody Seabody is, as nobody in the band goes by that name.) To start, the succinct, stripped-down opener “Two Atmospheres,” with its strummed acoustic, patted tom-toms, and off-pitch, falsetto-tinged harmonies – guitarists Dave Merriett and Bryce Perkins, and drummer Clint Rater all sing – has a spontaneous, Beach Boys/Beatles-meets-stoner pop vibe.

It’s followed by the sprawling, nine-minute-long, Dinosaur Jr.-meets-Bevis Frond behemoth “Grassman,” which features abruptly changing tempos that fluctuate between busy, buzzing, ‘60s psych-rock and surging, sputtering ‘70s blues/metal jams. Next, the slower-paced, cinematic “You Always Come in Twos” sports lofty, hypnotic vocals and a spooky, Outer Limits-evoking synth drone, blending Pink Floyd-tinted prog with traces of Radiohead alt-rock and Pearl Jam grunge. Elsewhere, “Summary Zen” and “Battle” boast chunky blues-rock power chords that offset their poppier melodies, while the shuffling “Rake One” closes with some Spanish-tinged gypsy guitar.

Yet even with the awareness of their approach-altering affinities, I wasn’t prepared for the final three tracks, which sound like a completely different band. Each revisits the pulverizing, punk-edged fury of the single, but increases the overdriven hardcore/screamo onslaught tenfold, climaxing with the drubbing, diaphragm-demolishing, distortion-drenched deluge of “Fucked Up Adventurous.” Those three tunes are a jarring contrast to the first six, and would have done better as a separate standalone EP. But for hard-rock fans with more unpredictable palates, Holographic strikes a satisfying symmetry between pensive and punishing. (