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Ovlov is a Connecticut based hard rock and post-punk trio determined to scrap their way to the top of the garage. Their newest release Am (Exploding in Sound, 2013) presents time tested youthful fist-waving rock and recalls the feeling of being a young twentysomething sleeping for months in your cousin’s basement, Marshall stacks among the PBR cans from the night before after having some friend’s neighbor pierce your eyebrow. The three Hartlett brothers; Steve, Theo, and Jon play with a reminiscent fervor of rock days past which indicates their long running chemistry as musicians.
Their music unfurls with classic late 90’s & early 2000’s riff work and expected feedback flourishes over hammering drums. The tracks are played at orgasm level starting about 20 seconds in and until the final crash. Often this causes the music to sound flat and repetitive, but they avoid boredom in the best tracks by some drone inspired instrumental sections. While the songs generally sound samey-samey, the album does enjoy a cohesiveness that can be lacking from other rock bands in this vein. The sounds of simple guitars, bass, and drums are bolstered by energy-building staccato chord strikes with hammering toms leading into reverb laden cymbal strikes, usually with a sustain of minor mode vocals over it all. The vocals are unimaginative and unintelligible (or just unnecessary) at times but are fitting for the garage punk aesthetic they’re going for. In fact, the album employs many less-than-ambitious motifs which, though probably exciting for post-punk faithful, remain pretty forgettable to the casual listener. The vocals display an occasional sense of humor which can provide a sense of relatability and flippant artistic expression over more dense, incendiary melodrama which can sometimes harangue bands in this style.
The greatest moments are the more extended jams to finish some of the tracks where the second guitar is more adventurous with its melody lines, overtly distorted with dissonant melodic phrasing and picking rhythms that keep the music compelling to listen to. They groove harder and more methodically than label mates Fat History Month and Two Inch Astronaut, who choose more scattered and discombobulating chord changes and percussive non-sequiturs to keep the music compelling and unpredictable. Underneath these jams are basic chord transitions and rhythms that basically keep it moving but don’t surprise enough to give the music a sense of freshness when combined with the more expressive guitar work. It’s this second guitar that provides the main umph behind the purpose of extending songs to 4 minutes or longer in this genre.
On that note, the bandmates are tight and play with a strong sense of cohesiveness, even with some of their moderately difficult verse-chorus transitions. For their chemistry, one hopes their next release reaches for more interesting song structure and less compromised ambition. The band sounds like they have a lot of fun playing, assuredly these songs are fun live for their timbre and energy-explosion sentiment. If the music itself becomes more nuanced, less safe and as fun for the listener as for the musicians playing it, Ovlov will have tackled an entirely new characteristic to their music and likely will cull listeners from more genres.
Written by Case Newsom
OurVinyl | Senior Writer