Ace and the Gulls // Ace and the Gulls
Recommended Track(s): Hey Julia
It’s no secret that most things “60s garage” agitate me to the point of wanton violence. So I can only imagine it’s me surviving the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life that has me somewhat okay with Ace and The Gulls’ self-titled debut. The bass is simple & understated. The drums actually respect the vocal mix, which, however amateurish the production, is better than some suburban moron bashing away at his set in front of an overblown Tascam. The guitars, though shamefully low in the mix, take on the strange tone of a glass jar filled with metal filings rolled down the halls of an empty museum. The most charming aspect however, are the unified voices of Sobelsohn, Linton and Bishow.
Something about Ace & The Gulls reminds me of The Toys or maybe The Spiders, but stripped way down, naked and forced to walk home with heads held high while being sprayed with Super Soakers filled with Green Ink. There’s a quiet dignity in how almost-completely-without-merit this offering is. For all of their cute little quirks, it’s still a fairly derivative record. But something tells me that these three dudes probably don’t know any better and it’s such an interesting mix of genres/players that I can’t really bring myself to hate it completely. Even though, I really, really want to. Oh my god, how I want to.
The album does have a moment or two. “Hey, Julia” sounds like something playing out of a Technicolor café behind you while Squiggle Vision Speed Levitch is in the middle of the street screaming about “Salsa dancing with his confusion” à la Linklater’s Waking Life. There’s a lounged-out simplistic air to the song, one part bouncy (almost plodding) bassline, one part backyard barbershop tandem swooning. “Make You Sore” has a guitar solo that I know is still guitar but morphs into surf-Xylophone. There. Like I said: two moments.
Summing up the way I feel about this record: imagine me with my hand out (palms down) and it’s teetering like a shitty hang-glider in turbulent winds. And I’m saying: “Eh.” But! I am also smiling. But! I could *easily* turn it to that gesture one does when they want the waiter to return a severely undercooked steak. I like it, but I’m not going to give it a total free pass because Ace and the Gulls are getting by on pure awkward charm and my own restored health-vibes. Most parts of the record are still very High School Talent Show and they need to just straight up “Be Better At This” all across the board.
My advice, boys? Get weirder. You like the 90s? Listen to Unwound. Listen to Slint. Drop LSD, drink GHB, then run up into the house with a trash can lid and blast your father’s dumb ol’ face with it. Date a woman like Tilda Swinton’s character in Young Adam. Join a Fight Club and break every rule except the 3rd and the last three and just…I don’t know…see what fucking happens! Do something! Anything to get rid of the gee-golly and aw-shucks-we’re-just-tryin’ I hear on this record. Sure, staying traditionally garage will probably ensure you play all your friends’ parties where only the lowest of the common denominators are invited…but we have enough bands like that sucking it up all across our gross nation.
Don’t stop playing though.