LEAN – Tape
by Emīls Vilcāns
Emerging from the wild desert of Brooklyn, NYC, the stoner-garage rock quartet LEAN are the ones shaking the saloon. Being a reincarnation of the trashy garage act Stay At Home Dads, these fuzz-worshipers have been bashing out heavy riffs together since 2012. With loads of shows both as LEAN and other side-projects, the band is finally dropping a proper album in September, 2016 – Tape.
First thing that struck me upon listening to the opening track Outlaw, which is also featured on their DEMO, is how the band pulls off the crazily raw and messy output. The opening bass-guitar notes perfectly hide the fuzz-filled joyride that lies ahead, and with the switch of the fuzz, the band erupts! Accompanied by the wah guitar, the continuous riff turns into a run from the authorities, as filled in by the perfectly fitting vocals that imbue themes of the wild west. There, in the middle of the plains with a man on the run, the band creates it’s own fast-paced western that concludes with a strong two-part guitar solo, followed by a noisy outro.
And with a powerful blast the fuzz-driven madness continues on Left Hand Path, which takes the aggressiveness and pace from their crust-punk days. The heavy rhythm guitar is overlaid with a fast guitar interlude that helps on pushing the intensity. Finally, the fast-pace is broken up and shattered between a Sleep-like riff that is accompanied by a more distinguished wah guitar than it’s predecessor . The overall sound makes you feel like the room is getting sticky and the impending doom is approaching. The instruments are blended masterfully, which proves to show that the band-mates truly know each other. The crunchy bass, the fuzz, the wah, the crushing drums and the vocals all build each other into a maddening climax, that, once again, demonstrates the playful solo interaction between the two guitarists.
Causing trouble on both sides of the Rio Grande River, both Vigilante and Mescalero slow the overall pace down a notch. With even more psychedelic heaviness, these two final pieces step directly into the stoner-doom sound you would trip-to from Sleep’s Holly Mountain. Whilst still playing around with the crunch and the fuzz, the overall feeling on the second half of the album is slightly different, yet, it still sticks to the concept of the whole thing. The almost 13 minute closer on Tape is a heavy riff build that’s guided into outer-space by delayed lyrics. After achieving their heaviest psych sound on the album, the riff is grown over by their last guitar solo madness. Followed by the calm outro Untitled, the album is closed off on a atmospheric note with a tumbleweed running through your room.
Overall, LEAN have really made a solid debut for themselves. Rising from Brooklyn’s DIY scene, the album is both recorded and mixed by the band itself. Comparing to their DEMO from back in 2014, Tape demonstrates how the band has stepped up it’s recording game. Nevertheless, one of the keys to the nicely melted instrumentals is the bands history and experimenting with punk/psych during their Stay At Home Dads days. Their turn to play doom/psych with crust-punk influence seems natural. Adapting both to the song structures and the heaviness of doom, their garage-punk roots form the final sound as raw and messy. However, compositionally-wise, the tracks don’t call out brilliance or vast originality. As doom goes, the fuzzed-out riff builds that climax into huge solos is a common thing. Although, the bands idea of strong two-part guitar solos does not go unnoticed, it’s actually quite unique.On top of that, the punk-rock typed vocals suit the overall sound perfectly, in a way I had never imagined. And for the western fans…Tape is the album that’s going to awaken your desert outlaw fantasies. A solid listen to which I will definitely return from time to time whilst hoping for more!
2. Left Hand Path