"Learned Hopelessness"

Have you ever dreamed of learning one riff and basing an entire album on it, then decided it wasn't really possible? Well, look no further than the Lamps and Under the Water Under the Ground, for proof that it could just be. While these songs may not all share the exact same riff, they're all pretty fucking hard to tell apart. And sure, there's some fucking-around-with of effects and feedback and the like, but we're never far from that marching, Neanderthal guitar/bass/drums groove. That's okay, though, the Lamps aren't about nuance—they're about making a point and then driving it home, over and over again.

The latest result, Under, is like a molasses marathon of that heavy, distorted riffage, percussion sufficient for the artillery field, grumpy, brassy bass, and—you guessed it—a grease vat of distortion and fuzz. I wasn't around for their last, one, titled aptly Lamps Lamps, but I can report that their first LP has been on my shelf for quite some time. Comparison: Under the Water Under the Ground isn't as compositionally diverse but the thrills aren't too diminished as a result. Under is a soundtrack for heavy lifting, and who the hell isn't in need of one of those these days?

Both aesthetically and sonically, this stuff renders close to that of another band near and dear to my eardrums, Portland's sadly defunct Hunches. It's far less melodic, but other similarities persist, not the least of which is that front guy Monty Buckles's (he also of the great, great Wounded Lion) vocals also sound something like the Big Bopper on GHB. The brutish rhythm section is comprised of Josh Erkman on drums and someone named Thee Jimmy Hole on bass. And in case you hadn't figured it out by now, this one's recommended.