Well-loved Ovlov of Newtown, Conn. deliver fully on the strong promise of their first EP's with their debut album am. 10 tracks of blown out, fuzzy haze dominate this solid LP. Clearly it will be ruining speakers everywhere for years to come.
Many of these great songs are recognizable to those who have seen Ovlov live, and to see them translated into the complete set of an album turned out to be extremely rewarding. It is just as rewarding to see this set of Hartlett brothers, Steve, Jon and Theo, record their debut LP with the help of their friends and release it to such acclaim.
"Grapes" explodes with muddy 90's goodness, but despite having the emotional sludge of Dinosaur Jr. and Hum, this is a much more modern take on the sound itself. It has a more prog song structure than those bands used, while still maintaining some semblance of pop mentality. Guest vocalist Sadie Dupuis does a great job adding to the environment of this song and recording (as she does on all of her contributions on this album).
"The Well" is already getting radio play across the state, as it should, and it fits nicely into the track 2 "single" slot. Some moments of this song remind me of "I Got Well" from Ovlov's EP What's So Great About The City. Perhaps there's a connection as the titles might imply. This song illustrates one of this album's greatest weapons: blazing leads by Steve Hartlett.
Spin Magazine premiered "Nü Pünk" last month and it's definitely a darker and moodier tune for Ovlov, but it nonetheless still blasts super saturated guitars and drums in its frantic execution. These are some angry guitars! Steve's leads rip through the song at all the perfect times and shriek like a banshee at the climax.
"Where's My Dini" takes it down a notch, but only in tempo. The guitars swell and blast as Sadie Dupuis returns to add some sweet echoing melody to the mix. Something to note: there's another "Dini" song later in this album, but both titles interestingly remind fans of "I'm Your Dini" from Ovlov's debut EP Crazy Motorcycle Jump.
"Milk" has some awesome drum change-ups across what I think is a southwestern sounding verse. I think it's the guitars that make me feel this way with the melodic leads. It erupts into a noisy explosion reminiscent of the notorious final song from pretty much any live Ovlov set. Noise becomes chaos, and all the while, the drums are a thunderous unstoppable rhythm, courtesy of Theo Hartlett, and Jon Hartlett's bass line drives the song along, grounding the unraveling leads.
"Really Bees" teases like it will have any delicacy in it at all, but then combusts hot Ovlov all over your face with near screaming vocals and crazy loud guitars. All I have to say about this song is that it begins like "Oh shit, what's gonna happen?" and then you're like, "Oh shit! That's what happened. I'm moshing now."
Slow burner "Moth Rock" chugs along at a decent pace and covers some interesting emotional terrain. It has refreshingly rich guitar and a more humbled vocal set. It does quite a few different things in the 5+ minutes of its length. Where most music of this style and genre (especially in the 90's) tends to slack through a 5 minute song, Ovlov seizes the opportunity to do something more challenging. They play the parts differently as the song goes on, different guitar parts are embellished when they come up in the song again, and different tones emerge.
"There's My Dini," the third "Dini" song in Ovlov's oeuvre, has more of that 90's grunge bass and guitar, this time matched with a sing-talking verse. This song has a real Pixies vibe which is emphasized by more Dupuis backing vocals. This is another live favorite and mainstay of their setlists.
"Blue Baby" is the first song from this album to be "released" months ago, and it set up the pay off of this LP because this song is such a tease! Baby Blue makes you want more the very instant it's over. From its swelling beginning to the kick-in-the-face fuzz, it's a solid song with sort of a sad or regretful vibe. I hope Yuck will hear this song and take Ovlov on tour.
"The Great Alligator" closes out the album with jangly disjointed guitar work. It's disorienting to the point where you nearly think you're listening to damaged tape (as referenced at the very start of the track). It's anyone's guess how Theo Hartlett was able to keep a steady beat with something so odd sounding coming through the headphones. This in no way means this song is of poor quality or not enjoyable, quite the contrary. This feels like an innovation, something striking and intriguing rather than annoying. I like the charming melody; it sounds like they took an old 1950's pop song and dragged it through the grunge era. The guitar spills over, flooding the end of this song in case you forgot just who it is you are listening to.
Things are going very well for Exploding In Sound Records lately. Fat History Month and Two Inch Astronaut are both getting some well deserved coverage and praise on a national level. Hooking up with Ovlov seems like the natural move, and it has rewarded both of them equally. Adding Ovlov to their arsenal couldn't have come at a better time.