BY FRED MILLS
Is that a racket in your pocket or are you just glad to see me? Wait, that’s not a misprint—I did say “racket.” And whether you’ve got Austin’s Ugly Beats streaming through your ear buds or coming outta the Chevy’s 8-track player, it’s a blast. Literally and figuratively, bubba. For some time now the garage outfit has been enlightening minds and softening ear wax with their hooks ‘n’ looks, with 2010’s Motor! setting the bar uncommonly high. Brand New Day, easily their finest hour, raises it even higher.
Right from the get-go, with opening track “Up On the Sun” the band announces its intention to Nuggets-afy your world, the sinewy number as pulse-quickening as it is tuneful with its Kinks-meet-Hoodoo Gurus thrust. After that sterling start, the band settles in for some serious business. Highlights include “Throw Me A Line,” with its “Hey Little Girl” (Syndicate of Sound)” vibe; the dreamy, 12-string powered Byrds-isms of “Braced For the Fall”; and the paisley underground psychedelia of the title track (which, swear to god, sounds like a long lost Rain Parade track). Also in the mix are several well-chosen covers, including a reverent reading of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter” done in the style as Johnny and June Carter Cash, plus a jangles-and-organ Spanish folk-rock number by Los Flecos called “Los Gusanos.”
If you’ve ever seen the Ugly Beats live, you know what a powerful and charismatic stage presence they have; they’re clearly the kings of the Austin garage circuit—as the saying goes, they’re also “big in Europe”—but nationally they still remain relatively under the radar. Brand New Day could change that and push ‘em to the forefront of the U.S. garage scene, as the songwriting and delivery is so ridiculously first-rate that pretty much every other long-player of a similar ilk from the past few years pales by comparison. These guys’ hearts may be in 1966, but they’re as friggin’ contemporary as they come. So let’s get out there and vote with our wallets, kids—it’s for one righteous racket.
DOWNLOAD: “Brand New Day,” “Throw Me A Line,” “Up On the Sun,” “Beataroo”