Due to its liberal usage around ye olden music-critiquing biz, “garage rock” is one of those dicey descriptors that, should you choose to follow it, can lead you down a multitude of avenues. It can walk you knowingly into a crotch punching at the hands of the Candy Snatchers, leave you pleasantly surprised and smiling thanks to the likes of Koko Beware, or unexpectedly drop you off smack dab in the middle of downtown Boringsville; which in this case happens to be San Francisco. I Need You Bad is a compilation documenting the present day San Francisco garage rock scene. Curated by one of its most dynamic members, Sonny Smith, it features established bands like Sonny & The Sunsets, The Sandwitches, and Warm Soda alongside a handful of lesser-knowns. Cool idea, but the downside is this is a collection that will send even the most over-caffeinated, coked-up, bicycle cap-wearing scenesters deep into a hibernation-like slumber. Out of the 15 bands compiled here, there’s only four that contribute songs that stand apart from a what is an otherwise completely morose affair.
“Thine Eyes” by Pure Bliss recalls ‘80s favorites like Echo & The Bunnymen and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, with a stitch of Joy Division tossed in. It’s a jangly, upbeat alt-pop song. With its catchy melody it will have you head noddin’ and toe tappin’ along, while images of John Hughes films creep into your subconscious.
Burnt Ones turn in a psychedelic-tinged number with their track “Premonition.” It’s similar in nature to what Crocodiles were doing on their second album Sleep Forever. With it's sunburned melody and cranial buzz, it's easy to imagine yourself laying on a beach, taking in some rays in a sensimilla-induced dream state. Mid-song, there’s also a nice My Bloody Valentine-ish noise part that contributes overall headiness.
“Honey Goes” by Wet Illustrated is along the same lines as the Pure Bliss track; stylistically ‘80s alt-pop. With its heavy Siouxsie & the Banshees nuance it’s perhaps the most charming track on the compilation. Nothing groovy, per se, but there's a tunefulness about it that pulls you in unexpectedly; leaving you unconsciously swaying to and fro.
And then there's Sunfoot, who go the post-punk/no-wave route on “Why do You Want to Throw a Brick?” While the Joy Divison come DNA comparisons would not be inaccurate, it also brings to mind more obscure acts like Craze and Kenny Vaughan. In fact this song would fit nicely in a playlist alongside “Motions” and “Tonight I Will Need”, respectively.
Given the amount of work that goes into labor-of-love undertakings, it’s hard not to appreciate compilation projects like this. It’s quite commendable actually, and it’s great that such things are available; if anything just for their mere existence. But unfortunately I Need You Bad is a pretty underwhelming experience. Aside from the small number of keepers it’s not one that deserves many repeated listens.
3.0 / 10
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