Friday, February 27, 2009

SXSW '09 Pick #9: The Broadfield Marchers

The Broadfield Marchers

The Inevitable Continuing
Rainow Quartz Records

Among its origins, Psychedelic rock could be characterized as an early offshoot of garage rock. Fuzz pedals, Farfisas, and older Rickenbacker guitars with their classic twang integrated into garage rock to take it from basic to freaky. This progression not only took place in the '60s, but also in the '80s once punk bands integrated The Velvet Undergound into their sound, then later The Byrds, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Beatles Revolver, and others. That result was bands like The Soft Boys, REM, The Bangles, The Plimsouls, and others. Right now, we're witnessing the third wave of that progression that started in the mid '90s with The High Dials, Asteroid #4, and newer acts like The Urges, who stick to a loud, fuzzy garage rock, but also have integrated small elements of psychedelic rock, The Disraelis, and The Parties. In fact, one could say this is the year of psychedelic garage rock. A relative unknown to this third wave is The Broadfield Marchers, a three piece outfit that carries melodic psychedelia with a raw, lo-fi sound, and a slower tempo. In fact, they're a bit of a standout with the combination.

Considering they're on Rainow Quartz Records, a label long known for picking a lot of the best sounding, highly polished psych pop out there, The Broadfield Marchers are a bit of a surprise since it's not the crisp sound that many of use have come to expect from acts on the label. "Raul" is a strong, slow but heavy blast of low tempo, heavy chords that seem to have more in common with early Pixies than the band's labelmates, but the nearly out of nowhere guitar lick and the buildups to the chorus have more in common with the louder, heavier songs from The 13th Floor Elevators. One also notices that guitar/lead vocalist Dustin Zdobylak has a soft, high pitched voice that stands as a good contrast to his somewhat heavy guitar playing. If one has a genuine affection for lo fi, "Leopards With Empty Claws" is a wonderful fulfillment with it's Peter Buck, early REM style guitar, and although early REM was not exactly top studio production and has a great element of newness in its back to basics approach, The Broadfield Marchers have an even less frills sound.

One can tell The Broadfield Marchers are a basic psychedelic outfit by way of The Byrds and previously mentioned acts, but with the odd, sliding diversions on "Stutter Shaker" and "Watchful Hill People", one notices that The Broadfield Marchers use a good bag of psychedelic touches that are always original, exciting, and just odd enough in their contrast to the rest of a song that show that this band is well above doing anything formulaic. In fact, although "The Inevitable Continuing" is mostly downtempo with little guitar effects, they got quite a response at last year's CMJ showcase, where Dustin wowed the crowd to the point that a few likened them to early Nirvana! Possibly, what makes The Broadfield Marchers is that they've completely eschewed the '90s shoegazer type psychedelia for something much less refined and exciting. That's not to say that the songs border on catchiness, but songs like "Mondo from Growth" carry a much stronger air of rock 'n' roll than lush psychedelia of shoegazer music. Also, the songs just sound like they're being played in a room in front of you. They're great songs that although are quite well done, don't sound like they came from a studio. For example, Mark Zdobylak has a prominent, melodic bass on "Following Minds" that seems to be on its own melody at times and is just complex enough to be interesting. At the same time, Justin's guitar is best described as "active" and never predictable, but his voice possesses a clarity and almost innocence since it's so high that that it makes for a song that one could both sing along to but never be able to predict the music to it.

The combination of a minimalist approach with careful attention to the music itself is hard to come by. In fact, the band that always championed this approach was The Velvet Underground by doing few things and not relying on studio tricks. One of the greatest results of this idea was Loaded, which was an album full of great, basic rock songs that were often slow, but remain fresh and modern with every listen. The Broadfield Marchers have a natural affinity for this sound and approach on "Patterns Of A Glance" and "Eagles Prevail." A personal favorite is "Panic Imposed", with a near '70s beat from drummer Justin Carter and many creative touches combined with some similar decade guitar riffs over Dustin's high voice that seem to communicate a heightened sense of fear when he sings the words "Panic imposed". Another standout is "Rightness of Commands", with an almost familiar melody interspersed with flowing but almost disturbing guitar effects.

The Broadfield Marchers The Inevitable Continuing can best be described as striking. Most of 19 tracks on the album are sharp pieces that don't repeat themselves, but are definitely a great psychedelic trip because the album moves like being in an ever changing world with sharp turns and never knowing what's coming around the corner, but having Dustin's voice as a permanent tourguide. Even the songs that one can easily point to influences carry enough string disturbances to keep one from becoming too comfortable and feeling like they know what The Broadfield Marchers are all about. In summation, this is what psychedelic music should be like: raw, harmonic, but also never predictable and often, unsettling. However, the confrontational elements are never shocking, but some to come naturally as part of their talents. The fact that the songs on The Inevitable Continuing have what can best be described as on overall weirdness to them while retaining a rock 'n' roll sound instead of being experimental are testimony to the fact that The Broadfield Marchers carry a lot of talent in three people that have translated into incredible performances according to the few who have seen them.

If you love rock 'n' roll, a part of that affection is for an element of disturbance because it's a rebellion to something standard and accepted. Unfortunately, most elements of the music that we hold so dearly that once were rebellion are now packaged and sold for it. The Broadfield Marchers play music that is still rock 'n' roll, but psychedelic and somewhat off either in key in certain places or full hits of odd but never contrived noise that they will remain with us and not be co-opted like so many of our favorite acts have been. It's not anarchy, but The Broadfield Marchers create short masterpieces that really provoke thought and appreciation for melodies with more than hints of disturbance to keep one always interested without being musically overbearing. Not only is The Inevitable Continuing a fast paced, psychedelic mindtrip on an unfamiliar and changing path, but their live shows simply cannot be missed.

SXSW Schedule:

Mar 18 2009 4:00Pm Unofficial SXSW Day show: Go Ape @ Sonny’s Vintage Austin, Texas
Also on the bill:
The Hall Monitors
Los Coronas
She Creatures
The Breakers
The Urges
The Right Ons
Eli Paperboy Reid and The True Loves

Mar 19 2009 2:30Pm Unofficial SXSW Day show: Blue Velvet, Austin, Texas
Also playing:
The Orchid Highway
The Ripe
The Moog
The Urges
The Telepathic Butterflies
Love City

Mar 20 2009 3:00P SXSW Music Festival @ The Spiderhouse (Day Show) Austin, Texas
(check back for the full lineup)
Mar 21 2009 11:00P

SXSW Music Festival @ BD Rileys 9:00 pm (Rainbow Quartz Showcase) Austin, Texas
Also playing:
The Telepathic Butterflies
Deleted Waveform Gatherings
The Orchid Highway
The Parties

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