Acid Eater is a such great name for a band, especially this band, evoking as it does, the corrosive effect of acid on any kind of surface, the mind-expanding properties of LSD and, just to top things off, the Ramones’ one and only covers album. Black Fuzz on Wheels, the second album from this Japanese punk band led by Yamazaki Maso (also known as Masonna), is a virulent onslaught of crusted garage punk sound, growled and grumbled in indifferent English, fed through echo-plexy distortion mirrors and adorned in an oddly festive way with manic trills of Farfisa. Like Guitar Wolf, Acid Eater takes everything you know about garage rock and turns it up 10 notches, in a sound that is a cartoonishly brilliant exaggeration of what you’ve come to expect.
Take the concept of lo-fi, for instance. You can debate whether Wavves or Vivian Girls or any of the current poster children are lo-fi as an affectation or not, whether it’s an authentic part of their sound or merely a fashion statement. With Acid Eaters, there’s no room for discussion. They’re lo-fi because they’ve set their amps on fire. The studio’s burning down, too, and the motorcycle revving in the background (which sounds, weirdly, almost exactly like their guitars) has just exploded. There’s nothing premeditated or expository about this band’s extremely raw, distorted sound.
Or consider the idea of covers, a critical way to stake out influences and one-up your friends’ knowledge of weirdo out-of-print records. Acid Eater churns out a foggy, thrashy, minute-and-a-half long version of Crime’s “Feel the Beat,” then moves onto the nearly operatic (at least by contrast) “Love Has No Time,” by mid-1980s punk-hardcore-quasi-grunge outfit The Miracle Workers. It’s maybe the best track on the disc, a fever haze of tangled guitars, cymbal bashing and surging, soaring, crazed romantic Farfisa, all recorded in an a mash of echo and buzz and hiss that almost, but not quite, overwhelms the song. These are just warm-ups, though. The really strange cover is “Follow Me” from the German soft porn soundtrack The Schulmadchen Report, which sounds like it swallowed the main riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and closes with a sample of a young girl simulating orgasm in German.
But the thing is, neither distortion nor record-collector oddity by itself would make the case for Acid Eaters — and translating what makes it so viscerally, pit-of-the-stomach-and-lower compelling into words is no easy task. Black Fuzz on Wheels sounds like the sweatiest, most drunken, most decadent night you ever spent in a club. It’s a continuous roar of pure devilish sensation that feels like it’s live and dangerous, even coming out of the iPod ear buds. Imagine it live. It’s kind of scary even thinking about it.