CD Review: "Less is Less"

CD: Less is Less
ARTIST: The Demon Beat

It may be a coincidence, it may be a nod, whatever. It is fitting, though, that the amalgamated image of Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman and Jordan Hudkins seen on the cover of Less is Less is wearing a flannel shirt.

Because, when filing their new 12-song effort in their own catalogue, file this one under: grunge. Mostly.

After like six years and as many or more releases, The Demon Beat’s own sonic output has, like the cover image itself, kind of blended together as they continue to evoke everything that is killer about rock and roll over the decades.

Less is Less, instead of channeling more of The Who, it’s as if Adam, Tucker and Jordan spent a couple of weeks on the road touring, listening to Bleach or something, got home, and went into the studio. Well, at least for a few songs.

Meisterhans’ guttural, blood-curdling screams, the feedback, the distortion, yes the desperation in his voice and lyrics: all of these have been present in most Demon Beat songs, seemingly more so though on Less is Less.

It’s not some huge divergence from what they’ve been doing, it’s the band continuing to evolve and/or highlight different parts of their own sound.

It may sound crazy to anyone familiar with the band, but this is the kind of record that fans of the band have been expecting or hoping they would make. But it’s even better than that.

All the while Meisterhans, the singer-guitarist, has been honing and steering the band’s sound live and in the studio, he’s continued to sharpen and refine the raw, live rock and roll energy people love about the band. Some bands can’t pull off live what The Demon Beat capture in the studio, totally DIY: these dudes are even more awesome live than on their records, and that’s saying something.

Standout tracks obviously will include the first single, “Teenage Wasteland” and songs like “Fingers,” (grunge) “Song 2, Part 2,” (this one stands out among most all DB songs because of its almost late 80’s-early 90’s college rock radio guitar tones and arrangements?) “I Melted,” (one of our favorites) and “Buzzkillin” are more catchy guitar-rock type deals.

The Demon Beat – Teenage Wasteland from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

The opening song, “I’ve Always Run,” “Bummer Machine,” and “Bored Forever” are examples of the more sludgy, brooding, grunge-oriented material referenced above. Riggleman and Hudkins ably provide the fat crash needed out of the rhythm section.

Most each and every song has killer solos and/or jammed out bridges, as The Demon Beat are wont to do.

The six-minute jam “Off The Wall” helps wind the record up/down before ending Less is Less with “The Wall,” (near sonic space jam type awesomeness) evoking more of the tones and feel of 1956.

You see it all the time with guests on talk shows, promoting a new movie or book, saying their newest effort is their best and most favoritest ever. Mixed and mastered -- with vocals and a few tracks recorded -- by Dave Klug in Pittsburgh, and released via Funny/Not Funny, it’s not hyperbolic to say that about Less is Less.

On the run (a recurrent theme in the lyrics) and/or “off the wall,” it seems like it would be tough to continually top what they’ve done before, but on Less is Less, you could say The Demon Beat does that, and more.

--- The Demon Beat releases “Less is Less” at 123 Pleasant Street Friday night and headlines The Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday. Interested in snagging Less is Less on vinyl or good old fashioned CD if you can’t make these shows? Hit up the F/NF page.

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