Kalamazoo’s Inflatable Best Friend are releasing their first full length soon, called “DMT Bike Ride”. They’ve been on a few tours and plan on going out west again this summer. They’ll be releasing the album with a couple release shows around Michigan. Check this release show out in Lansing soon.
Here’s a track-by-track review of their record.
Inflatable Best Friend is: Ian Howell (drums), Austin McQuarter (bass) and Tanner Boerman (vocals/guitar)
Spiritual Journey to the Gas Station: With a constant, droning fuzzed out guitar raging for the majority of the song, I get strong Sonic Youth vibes from this song. I like the production on this. The drums are up front in the mix so the guitar isn’t overbearing. Smart move there. The drums play the same beat over and over (for the most part). They’ve studied post-punk a bit. Interesting lead-off here.
I Wanna Ride a Sabertooth: The fuzz continues among a dance beat now. The vocal is very clean. Contrasts with the noisy guitar. The only lyrics are “I wanna ride a sabertooth” (or some variation on this). More lyrics please. I like the beginning of this song with the driving beat and fuzz bass. That’s cool. But it’s just kind of repetitive.
Moon Flower Soul: A guitar line that’s not overly noisy? I like it. But then it goes back to it’s old ways and definitely sounds just like a Sonic Youth swirling, flailing guitar. Nothing new. Boerman sounds a little like SY guitarist Lee Ranaldo when he sings. The guitar, even with all the noise, has a bit of melody coming out of it. It’s not all just noise (sometimes).
Blood Surf: Sounds a lot like the previous tracks. I get a bit of a goth/post-punk vibe from the vocals this time. Still the same fuzzed out bass and noisy guitars and cycling drum parts. More instrumental on this track than vocals. A subtle difference but not really enough to keep me interested.
Apis Mellifera: A clean guitar intro. Just as I thought it was staying the same as before, I changed up a little bit. Good to hear. Sounds a little like Lansing’s Cavalcade. Maybe in the same headspace. They’ve played shows together so maybe their sound rubbed off on IBF’s a little? Too much reverb on the vocals. Can’t really understand them. This got weird real quick. Sounds like they literally are messing with the tape speed on the guitar. Really cool move there. Almost down a similar path but took a few interesting turns.
My Dead Bird: Fitting. Begins with sounds of chirping birds. A lot more lo-fi this time around. I can actually hear the vocals: “His face was melting/flew into the sun/A thousand miles per hour/I heard him scream: ‘this feels like fun’”. A slowed down part with a reverberated “Now He’s Gone” plays side-by-side with a clean guitar part and marching drums. I’m starting to hear a bit of diversity on this album.
Brisk Steel Sun: With a psych-rock intro and a slowed down tempo with noise flashes here and there, it sounds like Blue Cheer with Thurston Moore on guitar. Noise yet rocking. Steady tempo on the drums. Vocals are too reverberated and far away in the mix to hear them intelligibly. The noise seems to be contained in a steady, hard rock mode. It’s easy to follow as opposed to other tracks. Another bit of diversity.
Swiss Cheese Brain: A clean, melodic guitar intro?! With a Dinosaur Jr.-like distorted and melodic guitar. More fuzz bass. The vocals don’t kick in until almost half way through the song. Again, more instrumental than vocal. Same old, same old.
Circus Dog: Sonically different than the rest of the album. Everything sounds like it was recorded separately (as opposed to the in-the-same-room feel as the rest of the album). Overall a lot more clean. Vocals have a lot of reverb on them. “Circus dog/you are my circus dog” Boerman sings. No fuzz bass this time. Reminds me of Kool Thing by Sonic Youth. These guys loooove Sonic Youth.
Thistle Girl: By far the noisiest track on the album. A cacophony if there ever was one. Then a tempo and mood change. Classic rock and ’80s alternative rock seeping through here. Kind of a tiring experience now having to listen to so much fuzzed out bass and noisy guitar. One track to go.
Worm Battle on DMT Mountain: Again a noisy track. Noisy guitar. Fuzzed out bass. Pounding drums. Same. Again.
Overall Thoughts: I got tired of the noisy guitar after a few songs and the production (in particular, the drums) never really changed. The places it did, I liked. I liked the occasional venture into clean guitar parts and some of the singing was alright. Next time, a bit more lyrics (and more thought into them) would be better. Experimenting with that on their next record might be the way to go while still harnessing their noisy exterior. I like what I hear but it can be a bit repititive and combersome. If you’re a fan of ’80s alternative and noise rock (Sonic Youth, Big Black) or even Lansing, MI band Cavalcade you might like this. Check it out here and go to their album release shows.