Xray Eyeballs, Not Nothing

Marissa G. Muller

By Marissa G. Muller

on 04.12.11 in Reviews

Though their frontman O.J. San Felipe hails from San Francisco, lo-fi outfit Xray Eyeballs' debut record, Not Nothing, sounds less like recent Bay Area garage than a nod to Warhol-era New York. The five-piece band — which includes members of equally fuzzed-out Brooklyn group Golden Triangle — swap tambourines and girl-crazy lyrics for heavy distortion and tales of crazy girls on these compact, bass-spiked lullabies. Rumbling cuts like "Crystal," which sports mosh-worthy drumbeats and bruising guitar riffs has a "Fuck it All" mentality, with Felipe delivering lines like "I can disappear" in a Lou Reed drawl. Thankfully, unlike Reed, Xray Eyeballs don't take themselves too seriously.

Garage-rock pranksters with drug-fueled lyrics

Indeed, Xray Eyeballs are garage-rock pranksters, and if their drug-fueled lyrics — which tell of marches fueled by sleeping pills and a tweaked-out ex coming down from crystal meth — risk alienating the soberest of listeners, the seductive, danceable hooks, will draw them right back in. The guitar-spun "Egyptian Magic" and synth-heavy "Drums Not Dead" are late-night anthems that recall, respectively, the La's and Eurythmics. Felipe's female counterpart, Carly Rabalais — who turned up as a guest vocalist on Smith Westerns' Dye it Blonde — helps soften the band's feedback squall. Her background coos on "Can't Escape From That Girl" cushion Felipe's grungy vocals. Not Nothing may scan as nihilistic punk, but there's a pop sensibility and melodic sweetness beneath every warped chord.