By Lauren Sloss | August 17th, 2012
I tread a fine line when it comes to noise rock. I love the dischord, the fuzz, the smokey intensity that the best of the genre (all hail The Jesus and Mary Chain) can produce. But bands that cross that line, that veer to far into noise and away from music (in my humble opinion, anyway) quickly become tiresome to me, and maybe even unlistenable.
Royal Baths, a San Francisco-based band, may achieve my perfect balance. Their debut release, Litanies, slinks and sways, pulsing and swelling in a stratified union of noise. The smokey fuzz is there, the vocals act more as a harmonic element than a driving force. But this isn’t noise for noise’s sake. Each track can be listened to for its distinctive, carefully thought out components. And every track has enough of a hook for me to be able to latch on.
Much as I love the punk influence that so much of San Francisco noise rock drawn from, I’m hugely attracted to Royal Baths’ sexy, stoned-out psych rock sound. This is music that you can allow to wash over you — it’s smoke coiling from a cigarette rather than a kick in the head. And I can’t seem to stop listening.
You can stream more of Litanies on the band’s SoundCloud page.