Review: Heads., Heads. (This Charming Man, 2015)

Compliments of This Charming Man Records, this self-titled debut EP from Heads.—a trio of two Germans and an Australian based in Berlin—unloads about a half-hour of absolutely dead-on perfect noise rock. Expect winding, slithering bass, bass, and more bass; a dash of skronk; a bit of lightly grating texture; and loads of dark, ominous intrigue.

"A Mural is Worth a Thousand Words" kicks it off with a hypnotically repetitious rhythm of slightly dirty bass and simple percussion alongside guitar feedback leading into bendy, back-and-forth riffing and half-spoken vocals that occasionally teeter towards more of a yell.

A similar approach follows in "Chewing on Kittens," with a half-sung drone to the vocals; while the guitars experiment with different tones and get slightly more melodic at times. Still very bass-heavy, though, and I'm all about it. In "Skrew," the instrumentation unites around the same surging riff before the guitars spread out into sparse melodies contrasted by the harshest vocals thus far, mixed deep in against the music so as not to overpower. The longest track at six minutes, "Black River" is also the sparsest—bringing in some bright arpeggiated runs and a return to the monotone half-singing. With tons of breathing room, the bulk of the track is fairly passive and quiet, prior to an uptick in hammering bass and a loose, rugged guitar solo towards the end.

"Foam" centers around a badass bass riff and sort of a noodling guitar style that tosses in bits and pieces off to the side—joining in fully during the chorus. It's one of my favorites: I don't know what it is, but it's weirdly hooky, somehow. Very cool. Again stripped down and sparse, closer "The Voynich Manuscript" delves into oppressively thick bass and a jazzy swing to the faint percussion, with distant swells of feedback/guitar noise. That being said, around the 2:20 mark all of the band's influences come together perfectly and explode into one of the most in your face and aggressive surges—another powerful moment that immediately stands out as peculiarly "catchy." Just excellent.

The band recorded 13 tracks live in three days (shaved down to six for the EP) and it sounds fuckin' great. Warm and natural, everything breathes but feels full and all-encompassing; it's crisp, hard-hitting, just perfect... they totally nailed it. They really make use of the fact that they're a trio, too. It sounds like they mixed the bass a little farther to the left and the guitars a little farther to the right, which really highlights the exceptionally bass-centric nature of the compositions, and totally rules!

The disc is housed in a simple black and white digipack with minimal information (no lyrics, unfortunately). I believe the vinyl arrives in a fancier die-cut package, but I'm not sure if it will provide the bonus of lyrics or not. That being said, most of the content is fairly easy to decipher, and tends to gravitate towards noir-ish cinematic tales:

There was a stream that ran right through my father's land, but when I go back it won't be there anymore. Cold, and dark, and black river runs through children's hands. Fragile memories that won't be there anymore. Black river. Black river won't be there anymore. I recall a broken man reaching for my father's hand, fighting to remember what won't be there anymore. Cold, and dark, and black river runs through children's hands. Fragile memories that won't be there anymore. Black river. Black river won't be there anymore.

If they recorded 13 tunes, I can't wait to hear the rest, so I hope the remaining seven are on the way. Despite my limited knowledge of this style, it always gets me when done right, and I would imagine that diehard followers of this niche should really lose their minds over Heads., 'cause this shit is top-shelf material.

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  1. No idea how I missed this post for 2 years since this is right up my alley, but I just grabbed everything they have out on Bandcamp.  Great stuff, awesome find!

    1.28.2017 | By Karl Jenkins

  2. Hey, better late than never!

    1.29.2017 | By Andrew Aversionline