On the Radar: Guzzlemug

Posted in On the Radar on September 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I like to indulge in something a little weird. A little off the riffy path, if you know what I’m saying. I kind of stumbled on a link to Chicago-by-way-of-Minneapolis abstract rockers Guzzlemug‘s new EP, Nervously Counting Rosary Beads, and it’s been meeting my strangeness quota ever since with its varied movements of choral melodies, instrumental math-metal rhythms, Melvinsian creepy chug, and finally, a grandiose trip into the bizarre no less psychedelic for the weight with which it crushes. Tech-type prog is a factor, but even the trio’s showiest stretches serve an overarching purpose that feeds into the song as a whole. It’s a pretty impressive piece of work, well arranged, tightly performed, and residing in a kind of clenched-stomach atmosphere that’s alternately unsettling and engaging. Once I press play, I can’t seem to stop it.

Nervously Counting Rosary Beads is — if their Bandcamp page is anything to go by — far from Guzzlemug‘s first release, but they’ve pressed it to 180 gram vinyl in an initial gatefold run of 200, so they’re obviously willing to stand behind it as well, and rightly so. By 15 minutes into the 29-minute lone title-track, the band starts to fill some of the space Sleepytime Gorilla Museum‘s KingCrimson-on-a-bad-trip style used to occupy in my waking nightmares, all vague ambient threats, mechanized-sounding churn and yet-unquenched thirst for violence. This reportedly isn’t the only EP they’ll have out before the end of 2012, but it’s worth a listen if you’re in one of those “everything sounds like everything else” moods, because if there’s anything Guzzlemug sound like, it’s not everything else.

They’ve got more details about the release on their Thee Facebooks, but if you do decide to take a listen to the track, take special note of the fact that no matter how far they go rhythmically, they never completely let go of the melody, or if they do, it’s never for too long. Even after the wild never-gonna-end tornado of turns, they bring it back to a weird soulful “sun will rise!” melodic vocal line. Right on. You could spend a while digging through this one:

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