The Potatoes update experimental punk and slacker bedroom alt-pop

Dec 24, 2014 at 1:00 am

Each great indie band begins their life by announcing who they're stealing from, which is about all they can do at the start anyway, consciously or otherwise. It can be obscure at the time (almost no one outside Germany remembered Neu when Stereolab started) or not at all (everyone knew the Velvets and Feelies when Galaxie 500 recorded their first single). What matters is choosing stuff that sounds good together and then jumping into the deep end with it, without looking to see if there's water in that particular pool. I don't know if local act the Potatoes are going to be a great indie band, or even if they are a "band." It sounds like maybe two people playing. But it could be three, or one. I do know that great bands have made far worse debuts than this, a six-song cassette tape with the loud songs on the first side, more quiet ones on the flip.

At first, it sounds like a drum machine is having a heart attack. But then the machine, which is so simple it might very well be a plastic toy, or even an app, slows down and other sounds also happen. Guitars slide in sideways, distorted and wound tightly yet bent to a super slack key. The vocals are intentionally distorted, and you're not going to have a clue what they're talking about until the 10th listen. At first you might think "Oh, Tyvek for toddlers!" until you realize that's not an insult in the least. Potatoes have found a smart way to update both late '70s U.K. experimental punk and the kind of American late 1980s slacker bedroom alt-pop made by kids obsessed with New Zealand music, and to some extent their own cleverness (i.e. very early Pavement, My Dad is Dead). These songs were recorded 15 months ago, now. Hopefully more will be revealed, and soon.