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Pet Genius - Pet Genius (CD)

Pet Genius
Pet Genius
by Alex Zervanos at 16 November 2007, 12:27 PM

PET GENIUS (brilliant name!) is a trio that was formed by CAVE IN/OCTAVE MUSEUM's guitarist Stephen Brodsky, along with his colleague from CAVE IN, DOOMRIDERS' drummer J.R. Conners and OCTAVE MUSEUM's bassist Johhnny Northrup.
There is an obvious stylistic dichotomy throughout the project's debut effort, and it is quickly brought to the forefront by the stark contrast between the first two tracks. The opener is a garage rock stomper, for the sake of which Brawdsky employs a Plant-esque sneer to moan through a playful, staccato vocal melody, barely managing to stay on top of the monstrous twang that forms the foundation of the song. His psyched-out riff sketches are routed to what sounds like a cheap amplifier pushed way beyond its limits, and the clipping, cacophonous, yet totally entertaining result plays like a possible figment of (THE WHITE STRIPES'/ THE RACONTEURS') Jack White's noisiest fantasies of being in LED ZEPPELIN.

 The Visiting Dynamiter, on the other hand, takes the listener to vintage psychedelic pop territory, back to the days when Syd Barrett had his lunacy under relative control and THE BEATLES were storming global cultural conscience. In fact Brawdsky's voice on the first seconds of this track comes eerily close to the choir-boy whispery tenor that Paul McCartney used to sport in his '60's prime. A sweet, highly memorable melody graces this 2-minute trip, nicely backed by a classical guitar, a fittingly discreet rhythm section, and, of course, some backwards electric leads.

From the third track on, these two worlds periodically collide, so we get songs that follow unpredictable twists and turns, a could-have-been-a-folk-rock tune turning into a head-banger that would easily fit a QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE release (Walls Of Etiquette), or a thunderous KYUSS-like opening sludge attached into a relaxed, peaceful main song (Man On The Mountain). The start-stop, angular, ascending riffs of Erase The Speed Of Time lead to a climactic finale of droning power chords, succeeded by the album's possible highlight, Cosmic Erosion, a dreamy gem that effortlessly bridges cosmic rock to grunge.

Such a schizophrenic collage of genres could easily end up sounding overtly self-conscious, exhibitionistic, or just annoyingly uneven, but this is not the case here, as there is enough humor all over the songs and their lyrics' absurdist self-mockery to keep it fun and cohesive for the adventurous listener. Chromatic Blues is a hilarious diatribe on, well, the chromatic musical scales, whereas its intro, Trash Heap Swing is an intentionally trashy mess consisting of funny lo-fi effects laid over a horrendously played and treated drum set. The latter's description by the band itself (egg beaters and broken cymbals hash out their differences) dissolves any suspicion of PET GENIUS taking themselves more seriously than necessary and reveals their fondness of FRANK ZAPPA's surreal world of relentless joking.

Fans of CAVE IN and their ambitious, widescreen mixture of RADIOHEAD's depressive introspection and post-metallic riffing should not expect to find in this release anything similar.

Those who dig experimental, genre blending and bending rock acts that are willing to keep a lighter, humorous edge intact, without significantly compromising the quality or the focus of their songwriting, should find this worthwhile, or even better.

4 Star Rating

The Visiting Dynamiter
Walls Of Etiquette
Man Of The Mountain
Float My Boat
Erase The Speed Of Time
Cosmic Erosion
Trash Heap Swing
Chromatic Blues
Scrapyard King
StoveTop Bredsky (aka Stephen Brodsky) - Vocals, Guitars
Johnny Coolbreeze (aka Johnny Northrup) - Bass
J.R. John Junior (aka J.R. Conners) - Drums
Record Label: Hydra Head Records


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