The opening guitar notes of Mass Solo Revolt’s “Easy Mark,” on the album of the same name, contain a certain tone, a certain fuzziness that takes me back to a time when indie rock was still a fairly novel thing to me. In its melodic chug, I hear Pavement, I hear Guided by Voices, and I hear Superchunk. Not that Mass Solo Revolt sounds exactly like them, but there’s that spark and warmth in MSR’s music that allows one to easily draw a line back to these underground giants. Plenty of bands can ape their heroes, but Mass Solo Revolt merely evoke a golden era while writing some particularly kickass songs of their own.
Mass Solo Revolt’s Easy Mark is more than just a really good indie rock record, it’s a really good rock record. In fact, when I really think about it, they don’t just recall Guided by Voices, but, in particular, the period during which Robert Pollard was backed by the muscular Cobra Verde. It’s more “Bulldog Skin” than “My Valuable Hunting Knife,” which is especially refreshing when you’ve heard countless bands rehash the latter. This Athens, Ga. band, while still young and relatively unknown, isn’t letting their underground status overshadow their need to be loud, and as such, Easy Mark has an overwhelming power about it.
The aforementioned title track opens the record with muscle and melody, lazily plodding its way toward an abrupt shift in tempo, skyrocketing into intense and catchy rock `n’ roll. The song shimmers and shines beneath Martin Brummeler’s slacker vox, ascending toward a triumphant chorus and a sinewy breakdown. “All Bark” is a bit more subdued at first, yet paradoxically more urgent, Brummeler’s vocal harmonies revealing a sing-songy melody that erupts into a synth-driven new wave chorus. Building back up into a loud and mighty rock record, “The Site…” boasts meaty riffs and equally meaty hooks. And “Bedmaker” is just plain awesome, propelled by infectious riffs and warbling low-end and featuring the sublime backing vocals of Melissa Quinley.
Martin Brummeler & Co. know their way around a guitar riff, and better yet, they command a soaring melody with confidence and swagger. Easy Mark‘s amp-driven power probably would have already been enough for me to give it a pass, but this is something far more special than just another loud rock record.
The Grifters – Crappin’ You Negative
Superchunk – Indoor Living
Guided by Voices – Mag Earwhig!
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.