Hot Garbage Free Fall into Electronic Psych Rock Experimentation on 'Ride'

BY Myles TiessenPublished Oct 28, 2021

The psych rockers of modern times are usually blitzed out, acid-taking, guitar-jamming bands that make music at an Adderal-abusing pace. Just uttering the phrase "garage-psych" will most likely bring to mind the names of prolific bands and titans of the genre still working today. 

Every once in a while, a relatively unknown player will break through the scene, bringing everything they've got and twisting the ear of anybody willing to listen. Ride, the debut LP from Toronto's Hot Garbage, is a fuzz-induced skydive into the sonic abyss. It's a free fall that provides the band with unlimited space to explore, experiment, and test the limits of psych music. The good news is, Hot Garbage stick the landing and come out on the other end fully evolved. 

This full maturation isn't surprising, given that the band have been releasing singles and EPs since 2017. On Ride, Hot Garbage explore the far-off reaches of psych by integrating a heavy amount of electronic music. It's often hard to tell what is digital and what might just be a guitar amp on overload, but the anomalous way Hot Garbage use electronic music on Ride is what makes the album a show-stopping standout.

Not only does it subvert any expectations of what to expect from a garage-psych band, but it also adds more depth to the production and helps flesh out the project. The droning synths of "Soft As Gold" aid in complementing the atmosphere of the track. Lead vocals from Alessandro Carlevaris are completely drowned in a maze of computerized buzz, and as the song comes to a crescendo, the fuzzy guitar and drones unite, whirling around one another — floating in and out. It's mesmerizing and holds onto you with vise-grip strength.

While most songs on Ride feel weighted with an electronic post-punk transmission or shoegaze exceptionalism, there remain a few slow-burning hallucinatory standouts. "She Figured It Out" is a relatively conscientious track that moves at a different pace. Chimes and bells cautiously make their way through the mix between reverb-washed vocals and a jazzy drum pattern. The ascending guitar slides through your brain over and over again, working in tandem with Carlevaris' four-word chant that reinforces the song title. At a certain point, the repetitive lyrics feel like an intentional mantra rather than monotonous drudgery, and the intentionality of the songwriting becomes clear as day. 

On Ride, Hot Garbage shape-shift from one song to the next — at one point sounding like Syd Barrett, the next My Bloody Valentine. Despite this, they manage to control their influences and showcase their own creativity. Their melodic song structure clashes beautifully with their experimental tendencies, and the result is a worthwhile spectacle.

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