Propelled by languid fuckall and bolstered by a lysergic drawl to rival that of Dead Meadow, Chicago trio Viper Fever make a lo-fi debut in the form of their Super Heavy Garage EP. They’ve been a band less than a year at this point, but have worked quickly and have a couple tours already under their belt. If the songs on the Super Heavy Garage EP — “Summer Time,” “Woman” and “You’re on Fire” — are anything to go by, a barebones approach is at the heart of what they do, but with tone to satisfy and attitude-drenched swagger, the first-name-only trio of guitarist/vocalist Tim, bassist Dan and drummer/organist Mark seem to have a good idea early on of how to get the most out of their relatively minimalist style. “Garage” should be a clue in the title of the EP.
Don’t forget the “super heavy” either, though. The three-piece may yet prove to just be getting their shit together stylistically, but whether it’s the faster, lead-driven riffing of “Summer Time” or Witch-style stoner drench of “Woman,” they manage to hone songs that are memorable in themselves and which hit with a decent impact. I don’t know what they recorded on, but organ is layered in with drums in the midsection of “Summer Time,” so I’d doubt it’s completely live — Mark also plays some fills at that point that would make it more or less impossible — but it sounds close enough, and with Tim‘s voice up front in the mix and heavily reverbed, they sound practice-room natural and no sloppier than seems to be the intent.
“Woman” has probably the strongest hook in its chorus, but is even more marked out by the downshift in pace from the EP’s opener. Dan offers some standout bass work alongside Tim‘s guitar, only furthering the laid back groove, and while it’s not a huge, consuming wall of fuzz, it’s certainly enough to get the chillout across. I’d swear I can hear a tape click off at the end of it. To finish out, “You’re on Fire” comes on with bigger crash, but Tim keeps the same nasal inflection in his vocals and the song winds up with a kind of intense loiter, restless but going nowhere — a perfect execution of patient fuzz delivered with a punkish spirit behind in the tradition of The Stooges and any number of their minions. The sway in “You’re on Fire” comes to a conclusion not with a big rock finish or long fade, but with the band simply stopping, underlining their garage roots and keep-it-simple ethic.
Since the whole Super Heavy Garage EP is only about 10 minutes long, it’s probably fair to assume Viper Fever are holding more cards than they’re showing in terms of their sound, but especially if they keep touring, it’s easy to think that the aesthetic they’ve begun to construct could quickly become their own. As it is, the Super Heavy Garage EP is fodder for any limited 7″ or tapes or whathaveyou in addition to the CD the band has put out through their own Fuzz Daddy Records, and serves as a solid announcement of their arrival as their work gets underway. I’m glad to have them added to The Obelisk Radio.
You can hear Viper Fever‘s Super Heavy Garage EP now as part of the playlist streaming live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and snag yourself a CD or free download through the Viper Fever Bandcamp: