Shrubs: Forgotten How to Fall
(2009, NOT Records)
There’s something deeply satisfying about grooving to a band you’ve never heard or heard about; there are no preconceived images that can calcify expectations about what a group “should” sound like. So it’s great to report that Forgotten How to Fall, the fifth release from Orange County’s own Shrubs, is just such an aural kick.
The 15 tracks cover a diversity of sound within the garage/psych-pop idiom. Part of the charm of the record is its unpretentious, everyman-rocking-out vibe, which, come to think of it, is one of the subtle pleasures of the original mid ’60s wave of amateurish garage punk.
The loose feel makes the songs resonate. The rockers on the album are played with the mid-tempo subway-shuffle the late-period Velvet Underground made famous. On this release the trio of Jay LoRubbio (guitars, accordion, vocals), Bob Torsello (bass, vocals), and Rob Takleszyn (drums, vocals) is augmented by Evan Teatum on mandolin and the esteemed Glenn Mercer of the Feelies on guitar, keyboards, and cowbell. Mercer also sat in the production chair and lends a stinging guitar lead on “Rock It,” which veers from amped-up Merseybeat to something more hard and sinister. Torsello’s bass playing is elastic and takes the songs in some unexpected directions. Some of the most pleasing tracks on the album are the slow burners; the spare, haunting existentialist ruminations of “Under a Microscope” is a prime example. www.myspace.com/shrubs.