Breasts – Breasts

Breasts
Breasts

It could be that female-centered band names have begun to supplant lupine-centered names in the catalogs of indie labels. What was with all those wolf names, anyway?

Given the name, the self-titled new release from California’s Breasts might have been expected to be a bombastic Spinal-Tap take on hard rock. Far from it, actually. This one is low-grade psychedelia, mixing mid-tempo excursions with occasional forays into accessibility and harmony. Most of the time, the vocals get drowned out by the wah-wah washes of guitar, so it’s difficult to discern whether the trio is penning songs about dragons or space or whatever else typically comes with the territory. My guess is that the band has aims other than to be as cliched as all that.

For its opening instrumental “Quadroon,” Breasts takes two guitar notes, some soaring background organ and guitar noise, and spends three-plus minutes grinding out the same groove. If you remember early Loop albums, it’s a lot like that, and even though it lacks any grand crescendos, it has flow and tension on its side to make it interesting. More Loop-isms follow with the cuts “Synthetic Frontiers” and “Veins.” The wailing, bent-note solos mill around in the background haze of toms and tambourines.

Balanced against the stoner-rock tendencies come occasional flirtations with Mojave 3 trances, as on “Send for the Royal Trumpet.” Apart from the song’s final minute – all quiet static and what is that? distorted voice? – it’s a near lullaby. “Pools of Blood,” likewise, lulls you into its relaxed Codeine warmth. Looking at these titles, yeah – maybe the band is going for some sort of sci-fi fantasy in its themes.

Notwithstanding the languid horns and female vocals that crop up on some tracks, more typical of the album are the Dead Meadow tracks “Synthetic Frontiers,” “Zero Voltage,” and “Shalamar.” Such tracks dig into their 60s influences pretty heartily. They’re a trip back in time, right down to the chants and odd strings that close “Shalamar” the way bands used to write songs when rock met up with Eastern mysticism way back when.