Hotwheels Jr. Head Driver

The bleary pop of this Austin quartet is a retro, indie amalgam that sounds fresher than it has a right to. When you pick it apart, you find all sorts of familiar bits. Krissy Recla’s warbly, waifish vocals recall Julie Doiron’s Eric’s Trip harmonies, and the squalling wah-wah guitar conjures Dinosaur Jr. It’s all wrapped in lots of Sonic Youth Daydream Nation skronk and guitar washes, which also bring Bailter Space to mind. The songs are hooky and tightly constructed, not just excuses or frameworks for shapeless squawking and pedal mashing, and bring visions of Smashing Pumpkins Gish, without Dame Corrigan’s self-centred and whining pretensions, to mind. And you can toss a hat-full of Pixies into the combination too. The emphasis is unquestionably on the guitars — lots of slashing interplay, all distorted to hell, with the occasional wall of head-bobbing riffage thrown in for some primal emotional purging. Sounds like quite a mess when described that way, doesn’t it? But, even though it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, it’s played with verve and freshness and commitment, and the result is wonderful. Who’da thunk guitar-based indie-alterna rock still had anything worthwhile or rewarding left to hear. (Rudy)