There’s no arguing the fact that without the fuzz pedal, there would be no hard rock music. You can pinpoint the exact moment rock n’ roll became rock; when the opening notes of The Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’, were first laid down at RCA Studios on 12 May 1965. Keith Richards’ Gibson Maestro Fuzz pedal provided the century-defining guitar tone. And just like that, pop culture history was made. And it rocked.
If Keef had never dreamt up that riff over fifty years ago, we would never have Solids; a Montreal group whose latest EP Else rips out of the speakers in gloriously fuzzy form. Clearly in thrall to Dinosaur Jr and the like, Solids are a truly alternative band for a faux-alternative generation.
But, it’s not endless distortion and walls of feedback, that’s been done before by bands no group could possibly live up to (Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine). No, Solids are smarter than that. They have cleverly used distortion and fuzz to lay monstrous foundations for chiming, shimmering guitar lines and deadpan vocal melodies. So while their sound is definitely a hark back to the aforementioned Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine, on Else they prove that they are well able to put their own twist on a genre synonymous with twists, yet, filled with dull copycats.
The four songs meld together perfectly into a distorted haze of noise and melody, but never do they sound totally the same. There’s enough variety and spice added to each song to make them all interesting and strong enough to stand on their own. Any of these tracks could have been a single, and as a matter of fact ‘Blank Stare’, (the single) is not the most immediately grabbing tune. That honour is bestowed on ‘Blurs’, a high-octane shin-kicker that starts off with an ungodly sounding chord and a beat that lets you know “shit’s about to go down”.
Solids understand something that’s generally lost on your average band: it’s all about the sound. It’s how the different elements come together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why the vocals are so low in the mix. The lyrics aren’t important, or at least emphasis isn’t placed on them. It’s more about the melody and the impression the melody leaves on the music. Everything complements each other perfectly. There’s enough space for each instrument to breathe, yet they’re inventive in their separate parts. It may be a fuzzy, distorted sound, but it’s never cluttered.
It’s refreshing to hear a genuinely alternative band. Have there been weirder and, arguably, “more” alternative bands? Yes, there have. But with so many septic indie-rock bands currently polluting this earth with their alt-lite garbage, it’s great to hear a band that doesn’t conform to that notion. Given time, I suspect that Solids will evolve, so they will sound a little less like there forebears and more like themselves. Solid.
Listen to Else here.