Clear Plastic Masks: Being There

Clear Plastic Masks
Being There
(Serpents and Snakes)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Moving a home base from Brooklyn to Nashville isn’t a common relocation, especially for a quartet steeped in the tough garage rock of Clear Plastic Masks. But while there is no country in the band’s bluesy, somewhat retro garage rock, there is a spunky sense of scruffy camaraderie in the quartet’s debut full length, shared by fellow Nashville transplants from the north the Black Keys and Jack White.

The music’s leathery, aggressive nature has clear connections to name-your-favorite Nuggets-act from the 60s and frontman Andrew Katz takes a few pages from the Jim Morrison book of slightly unhinged lead vocalists. But the rest of the group keeps up with him, urging him forward then coaxing him back off the ledge before he loses his balance. Occasional organ solidifies the Doors influence, yet these guys forge their own musical path. The Motown stylings of “Outcast” add a Detroit Cobras edge but it’s the raw crash and burn attack of “Pegasus in Glue” that best defines both the lyrical complexity and sweat soaked grime that saturates all eleven tracks.

Better yet, ballads such as the stark “Hungary Cup” strips the approach down to just piano and voice and “Baby Come On” slows the tempo and shows that these guys understand the importance of dynamics, dialing back the aggression to bubbling under status when needed. Being There proves you can’t take the urban claustrophobia out of music that thrives on its sure sense of filthy back alley tension and release. Whatever the reason for their home base shift from north to south, it was the right move at the right time, yielding one of the finest and most powerful roots rocking debuts so far this year.

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