[sic] Magazine

Ganglians – Monster Head Room

Now that lo-fi has become code for no-fi, it’s nice to have a Woodsist label band inhabiting a space closer to mid-fi. Crackles, pops and off-strums, that elsewhere in the label roster dominate, here become entirely secondary to the catchy, warped pop on offer. Equally indebted to both Neil Young and the Beach Boys , Monster Head Room falls far from foul of the argument that such effects are used purely to disguise poor tunes, as this Sacramento four-piece seem to have beautiful melodies at their finger tips and consequently spew insatiable rhythms with ease that’d sound great at any fidelity.

Just as on the original US release, this re-release (handled by Souterrain Transmissions ) houses cleaner revisions of the manically maudlin “The Void” and the bouncy, horizontal echo of “Candy Girl”, both of which starred on the debut EP. And, to warrant your cash, it comes with two extra tracks tagged to the album’s end in the shape of the complimentary “Blood On The Sand” and “Make It Up”.

As a result, it’s all rather impeccable, flitting between atmospheric, mid-fi acoustics and budget pop rhythms. Early highlight “Voodoo” features close, a cappella vocal harmonising, until an outrageous, minimal groove kicks in boogying among the poppy echoes. A similar trick is employed on the riff-heavy yet stripped-back “100 Years”, as well as on the mildly psychedelic “Valiant Brave”. Starting in washing, creaking restraint and whispery backing vocals, it quickly lurches into acid-fried R&B à la Black Lips and many of their In The Red label-mates.

Acoustic outings, such as the summery strum-along of “Cryin’ Smoke” and the gentle hand-clapping, toe-tapping, freakish wailing of “Lost Words”, provide necessary ballast, whereas the lengthy, gentle “To June” loiters in melancholic pedal steel and chirruping insects. Even Fleet Foxes ‘ harmonised atmospherics are acid-bathed for tail-ender “Modern African Queen”.

Monster Head Room is wildly deserving of the increased exposure Souterrain Transmissions is affording it. It’s the sort of record you feel smug owning, happily ensconced in its warm melodies and pleasing obscurities. It’s deft and timeless, effortless and honest and, as such, practically demands an extended stay in the player.

The expanded re-release of Monster Head Room is released May 10th 2010 via Souterrain Trainsmissions . The original US release is out now on Woodsist .