Maybe it’s just smoke from all the fireworks they’ve been setting off in the Sound It Out offices lately, but I’m really digging the thick haze of “Tell Me How It Is,” the new single from San Francisco rockers Male Gaze. Of course, SIO has been repping Male Gaze since their stunning 2015 debut introduced the band’s distinctive icy/sweaty garage-rock dialectic. Having to date taken pains not to let themselves be confused for 60s revivalists, the band finally lets themselves indulge in the lysergic influences of Nuggets-era psychedelia for the moving “Tell Me How It Is.”
Male Gaze don’t exactly reinvent the wheel — never a priority at Castle Face Records, the celebrated garage-rock label that frontman Matt Jones co-founded. Instead, their new album Miss Taken continues to explore the sonic nuances of Male Gaze’s bracing, reverb-drenched lo-fi riff-rock. Reliably, the band’s thunderous rhythm section takes the wheel on joy rides like “Wha Do Wha Do.” The cherry on the top, Jones’ too-cool vocals nod to post-punk loners like Ian Curtis and Greg Sage. Admire the parts or succumb to their sum, but give in to Male Gaze anyway you can.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.