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The good time fun machine known as Ochmere Bogscat is back with their latest Along Your Varnish, a 70-plus minute barnyard free for all complete with oompah whiskey jugs and electric cowbell.
Rattling and bouncing like some rusty old balloon, Ochmere Bogscat makes music that no one has ever heard before except perhaps in dreams, where it is instantly forgotten upon awakening.
Somehow, the band has managed to pull those phantom sounds out of the unconscious ether and unfurl them in the cold light of day, exposing their glistening tendrils and inhuman colors.
While never able to transcend their cult status niche appeal, the band has had some moderate critical acclaim largely among small town music bloggers. As far back as 2011 and the release of their groundbreaking Every Leaf On Every Tree theirs was the featured outro music for CBF’s Today Is Now arts and entertainment program, while last year’s Georgeous Calamity spawned two indie radio favorites, “Dining On John” and “Lizard Test,” the latter of which was also included on the soundtrack to Fillini’s Grouch Winning film, Under The Morning.
Opening with the baroque “Nikolai Rides His Monkey ” and its band effort drama and dynamics, the album is a journey through the collective imaginations of one of the most interesting bands in the alternative pop rock scene. Their fearless (or oblivious) disregard for anything trendy or even normal makes Along Your Varnish as bizarre as its title and just as much fun. “Father Armadillo & Mother Eel” is vintage psychedelic acid rock, the distorted bass and drums married to screaming saxophone and what may be a full blown Hammond organ or some secret farming apparatus.
“Six Cups Of Ocelot,” an odd meter opus detailing the culinary rituals of a monastery filled with nanotech recreations of Medieval cannibals(!) has a snaky charm as it rumbles and vibrates in and out of insistent keys and “broken” guitar while “Out Back In The Slug Shack” is content to bounce from danceable weird to not so danceable weird. But weird is good sometimes, and it’s always good with the Bog. They can make anything groove and often do, from kitchen items to elevator doors to construction equipment, adding in their distinctly Ochmere flourish.
Gaut and Wilkers have been making music together since both were only high school kids and it shows. Their playing is complimentary and impressively full sounding as it drives each and every moment, making the lively “All Roads Lead To Foam” and slow mud rocker “Keeping Four Quarters” dirt-shoveling good times. So this “real” music base (ie electric guitar, bass and acoustic drum) coupled with exotic instrumentation gives their music a vitality and immediacy that sets them apart. Add offkilter performances, bizarre sound treatments and overall production, throw in the band’s unique songwriting styles and you’ve got something wholly one of a kind.
Not every track is a winner, unfortunately. “Vladimir’s Velocipede” didn’t go far enough to transcend its drum’n’bass essence despite an inspired vocal and some wonderful lyrics (“When his majesty rides no telling what you’ll find. He’s the over-rated type who kept it in his pipe and now he’s got to figure out what kind of nicotine he likes”) and “The Prisoner,” while starting off well with a slithery vocal and a creaking rhythm, succumbed to production overkill, dragging out the middle section before Barnch and Gaut save the day with their respective solos. But those misses are overshadowed by the hits that make up the rest of the album; all in all, it’s a well rounded effort that brings some new flavors and some old friends to the table, making for good eatin’. Sound quality is excellent, the engineering and mastering solid as always with Ectoplasmic Records.
Closing with “Subterranean Sunburn,” a reverb-soaked sunshine-in-the-shadows techno-sludge affair featuring chugging rhythms and glassy guitars, Along Your Varnish is pure Bogscat. If you’re a fan then that’s good news. If you’re not there’s always top 40.