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Meercaz - Meercaz

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Artist: Meercaz

Album: Meercaz

Label: Gulcher

Review date: Feb. 26, 2009

Meercaz possesses the random fascination of the primitive, the kind that discovers how bones can be used as tools to beat the hell out of other things. In this case, the tool of choice is the antediluvian guitar, hammering away at the raw rock ‘n roll sound from the days before punk broke. Head ‘caz Mozzley foregoes the experiments in loneliness and alienation of so many new wave garage acts, instead exploring how it must have felt for a high school kid in the ‘70s to put on Raw Power for the first time. It’s not revivalism, just enthusiastic respect.

Sometimes the songs are just damage for damage’s sake and sometimes the rudiments are mashed, distorted, and strung out in such a way to make the wheel seem new. The guitar lingers on the most compelling sounds with a sense of pride and curiosity until there’s no pop left. On “Lovesick,” any sense of melody is disrupted in favor an atonal chug. It takes real dedication to run in place for so long, but the energy and charisma emanating from Mozz’s singing and guitar-playing will keep you hooked. And it makes it all the more rewarding when they finally hit the clutch and drop it into drive on the veritable anthems, like “Unlust.”

While they may be trafficking in secondhand sounds, Meercaz has the sensibility and the talent to mix the retro with the futuristic. Programmatic bleeps and cascading bloops keep it weirdly fresh without sacrificing any of the cloudy-headed dedication to guitar discovery that dominates their process. “Fan of a Daze” couldn’t be better named; this instrumental session complete with skuzzy electronic fly-bys and a seemingly never-ending stoner guitar line is maybe the closest thing here to a mission statement.

The big danger in this kind of process is redundancy. There’s nothing all that novel about Meercaz, and the closer Mozzley gets to the real heavy hitters, the more superfluous they become. Follow the formula and you’re bound to veer too close to historical antecedents who not only did it better but are still eminently listenable. On the one end is Mozz’s proximity to the righteous punk vibe of early Minor Threat or Fugazi. The plodding, amateurish “Legend” is pure MacKaye worship saved only by the gimmicky sleigh bells. But when they try to get it together and throw down properly on “Manic Mirror,” the Thin Lizzy imitation ends up falling short. They’re proficient enough as repertoire players, but in the end it leaves the band sounding like just another bunch of also-rans playing a glam rock wedding.

Meercaz are at their best and most memorable when they turn what sounds like mistakes into beautiful accidents. Recombining and experimenting with rock music’s mid-century relics isn’t the most original pastime, but Mozz seems to have good enough taste to know which bits and pieces are worth pursuing.

By Evan Hanlon

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