Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Atomic Bitchwax - The Local Fuzz (Album Review)

The Atomic Bitchwax - The Local Fuzz
Release date: June 28, 2011 (Tee Pee Records)

Sometimes, the mark of great music isn't so much that it demands your undivided attention, but that it simply makes whatever else you happen to be doing that much more enjoyable (or, in some cases, slightly more tolerable). By those standards, the Atomic Bitchwax might have a legitimate "Album of the Year" candidate in The Local Fuzz.

The New Jersey-based instrumental trio aren't necessarily aspiring to be anything more than great background music, be it the soundtrack to a Fourth of July pool party or simply another Wednesday in a cubicle. The thing is, the Atomic Bitchwax are so good at what they do, you can't help but occasionally stop what you're doing and nod your head to the groove with a big, dopey grin your face. In fact, the Atomic Bitchwax might be stoner rock's answer to Girl Talk. Instead of patching together bits and pieces of existing songs on a laptop a la Gregg Gillis, the Atomic Bitchwax have seemingly taken the best parts of a bunch of songs you've never heard and condensed them into one epic, 42-minute paean to the almighty riff. Oh yeah, and they actually wrote all those riffs and played them themselves.

Besides Girl Talk, the other comparison that comes to mind while listening to The Local Fuzz is the Smashing Pumpkins' "Pastichio Medley," a 23-minute B-side from the band's "Zero" single. But while "Pastichio Medley" offered a rapid-fire succession of frustratingly brief snippets of riffs that, for whatever reason, were never developed into complete songs, The Local Fuzz is a fully realized work. The Atomic Bitchwax actually took the time and effort to create segues and transitions that tie the sometimes disparate parts of the album together into one satisfying whole.

If ever an album was worthy of the "all killer, no filler" label, this is it. Chock full of booty-shaking grooves, funky handclaps, monstrous riffs and the occasional psychedelic interlude, The Local Fuzz proves that instrumental rock need not be laden with self-indulgent guitar wankery to make up for the lack of vocals. On The Local Fuzz, the Atomic Bitchwax simply let the riffs do the talking.

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