05/01/10 The 400 Bar Minneapolis, MNRead More
Loss of inhibitions. Loss of rational thought. Loss of hearing. Loss of basic vocabulary. Inability to control fists. These are symptoms of a total rock experience. Fortunately for musicians and unfortunately for the annals of audio history, your average rock fan will spaz out to pretty much anything with a guitar solo. This makes it difficult to judge the quality of a band by their band of loyal followers. When I saw the Magic Black Pumas play last summer with Ada Jane, the energy level was fierce, despite middling crowd draw. Fans wiggled their sexy bits with the fervor of a thousand Rock Band devotees and at least one “Fuck yeah!” was shouted to nothing in particular. For a local show, it was a good night.
Listening to Sticky Confection shines light on the band’s appeal. Where indie rock aspires to obfuscate stupidly simple concepts, the Pumas favor accessibility. Skimmers may write off the album as “conventional,” but clearly they are missing the point, which is: good music doesn’t need to be confusing. Furthermore, as a five-song EP, Sticky Confection displays surprising range, from the heavy-lidded “Black Lincoln” to the feverish, funk informed “Pink Caramel,” ending in guitar lickin’ glory (“Body Blow”). There’s a sort of steady beat that winds its way through each track and the showmanship is obvious: these guys appreciate a full sound. No tinkling keys or wasted breaths, or, God forbid, an inadvertent waltz.
The only puzzling (perhaps ‘peculiar’ is the better term) feature of the Puma’s music is their choice of lyrics. On the surface, wrapped in noise camo, one hardly notices the lyrics are bizarre. To wit: a thriving slippery virus moving through one body to the next / feel the glam penetration, the ballistics of sextan (“Trigger Virus”). Your first thought may be “this is clearly taking a page from the Psychedelic Handbook of Abstract Prose,” whereas my question is more succinct, less rhetorical: What? It’s a tad disillusioning when an otherwise approachable band suddenly pulls the rug out from under you…and then bludgeons your head with a soft—yet emotionally damaging—Nerf bat.
Symbolic cranial injuries aside, fans of the nebulous “alt-rock” genre (anywhere along the spectrum, Black Crowes to Black Keys) will appreciate the Pumas and their willingness to rock without reserve (and without irony). This ain’t music for your vegan boyfriends, girls. Sticky Confection sticks to the ribs like the Quarter Pounder you crave after said boyfriend tried to feed you a meal of tiny hay bales. It tastes even better with a cheap beer and a dirty floor, so check out the Magic Black Pumas this Saturday, May 1 at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota (with Ada Jane, Our Feature Presentation, and Ready Made Fire).