Street Gnar - Study Wall
(2013 Burger Records / Gnar Tapes)
Lexington, Kentucky solo act Street Gnar's most recent tape release, Study Wall, is an album that's difficult to categorize. It was actually recorded before his last album, the glossy, Krautrock-inspired Kenwicked, and it bears a similar tone, only much crunchier. Taking a cue from his former band, Jovontaes, frontman Case Mahan uses antiquated guitar tones and strange synth tones to craft songs that are creamy, with a slight grittiness that further brings out their dreamy flavor, not unlike Twinkie filling.
Just a few seconds after you toss this tape in your deck, you'll be floating in 60's FM radio nirvana as paisley-patterned jangles seep from your speakers and swirl around the room. The repetitive, driving rhythms are like musical mantras. It's not just the sound of the Summer of Love that Street Gnar evokes, though. Study Wall spans several decades, mainly the aforementioned Krautrock scene of the 80s and the 90s' grunge grime. Each track makes me want to live on a commune, play Q-Bert and watch 120 Minutes, all at the same time! Combined, these influences put Street Gnar in a category of its own. Perhaps it could be known as garage-gaze. I'd have to say that "Would You" is my favorite number on Study Wall, the sharp staccato of a drum machine building nervous tension while Mahan belts out his gravelly vocals, which sound a bit like Billy Corgan after drinking a jar of pickle juice. In all, there's no dearth of jangly-jams to be found on this Street Gnar tape. It's solid all the way through.