Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Nox Boys, Out of Touch, 2019

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

The first time you hear the Nox Boys song "Out of Touch," you might mistake it a classic garage rock track like something by The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. "Out of Touch," with its 60s organ, tight rhythm section, Dick Dale-like guitar licks, and sneering vocal has all the hallmarks of so many nuggets from that era. Except "Out of Touch" is the lead track on Nox Boys' new album of the same name, and it was recorded and released this year.

Nox Boys hail from Blanox, Pennsylvania (the boys from the 'nox), outside of Pittsburgh. The current line-up is Bob Powers on Melobar lap steel, Sam Berman on vocals and drums, Zack Keim on vocals and guitar, and Mitchell McDermott on bass and vocals.

They recorded their first, self-titled album as teenagers in high school in one weekend with producer Jim Diamond. Out Of Touch was also recorded in a short period of time. Gregg Kostelich, guitarist with the legendary Pittsburgh garage rock band The Cynics and founder of Get Hip Records, produced and plays bass on all tracks. Pete Drivere who has also worked with Blue Ash, Deadbeat Poets, and Infidels handled engineering duties. Most of the songs on Out of Touch were recorded in one take, and you can hear the energy and enthusiasm in the studio. It's not unlike the feeling you get from listening to The Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, which was recorded in one day.

The songs on Out of Touch have a broad mix of psychedelia, pop, and punk elements as well as musical elements that remind me of other bands that I like. For example, "One Thirteen" sounds like prime Replacements; and Keim's spoken line, "I asked a waitress / I asked her if she'd do it again" comes off as Paul Westerberg. There's also some great drumming and a wonderful, clean guitar break that could have been played by Johnny Rivers (think "Secret Agent Man"). "The Word," which may be my favorite song on the album, is the 'Mats in pop mode.

"Got Something To Say" takes a musical page from mid-60s Stones with some fine Keef-like slide guitar licks. "Fire In Her Eyes" is a song of seduction or of being seduced and makes great use of Bob Powers's lap steel guitar. And "Siren" mixes the lap steel with some terrific guitar playing.

"Darlene's Gone" is nearly eight minutes long and encompasses all that's really special about the Nox Boys' songwriting and musicianship. It has a slow start, spoken-word lyrics, and a pounding beat. All of the band's instruments come into play as the song progresses. There's also some psychedelic guitar, some fuzz-box action, and some slide work. It's a cross between "I Want You (She’s So Heavy)" and the guitar workout of Abbey Road’s "The End." It's an amazing piece of work.

Out of Touch is out now on Get Hip Recordings.

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