Photographer: Faiza Kracheni.
What if the greasy tough dudes at your high school were really smart? What if they blasted the Fall, Death of Samantha, Mission of Burma, and early Sonic Youth in their muscle cars instead of hair metal? What if they read a lot of William S. Burroughs, Jim Thompson, and Richard Price when they weren't smoking Luckies and slurping cheap beer? What if they could hurl a sharp, witty insult as fast as their fists? Don't look now, but those guys bought some cheap guitars and drums and they've formed a band. The Gotobeds' second album, 2016's Blood//Sugar//Secs//Traffic, is a lean and mean slice of jagged rock & roll, straight from the garage but without any fuzztone affectations, and with enough attitude to strip the paint off your car. There's nothing aimless or meandering about the Gotobeds' approach, and even when they get a bit sloppy, they home in on their aural targets with an impressive precision. Guitarists Eli Kasan and Tom Payne lay out riffs that cut like broken glass and snap together like Lincoln Logs, while bassist Gavin Jensen and drummer Cary Belback push the songs forward with muscle and flow. Melodically, the songs are elemental, but they have for-real melodies fueled by equal parts bile and swagger, and the Gotobeds are clever enough to made these songs go somewhere rather than letting their tunes wander in circles. The bandmembers know dynamics, and their attack is adventurous enough to sound artful even as they're coasting over speed bumps at 62 mph. Bottom line, this music is powerfully intelligent without sounding the tiniest bit pretentious, and imaginative without losing a bit of downtown grit. Blood//Sugar//Secs//Traffic is a blazing cool rock & roll assault, and a record that confirms greasy thugs can have a future after all. ~ Mark Deming