Paul Messis regards himself as a 'garage punk unknown' but has been throwing out pysch-rock nuggets for the best part of a decade as a solo artist, with his band The Suburban Homes, as bass player with The Higher State and through his collaboration with The Sufis - The Market Squares. His new solo LP, Songs Of Our Times mixes the jangle of ‘60s garage with folk rock and folk punk delivering a record that displays what he is all about.
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Mister one-and-done proves he has little time to do more than make an immaculate rock song and then move on. Opening with the kind of immediacy few dare intro their record with, Paul Messis makes a buzzy, dingy garage rock record that straight-up shreds, quick fixing for rock and roll.
These songs barely sound finished, but that’s how Messis likes to do it: “Sign of the Times” has the kind of forlorn jangle of old R.E.M. but with the half-made indecision of a band like Guided by Voices. Its choruses come with zero polish and we reach the bridge after the second one in just one and a half minutes, suggesting the song’s an excuse for Messis to play one of his beloved broken solos.
Messis is super playful and throws back to… well, something. It’s not clear where in the canon this record is sinking its teeth, but he inflects his garage rock with greyscale harmonies, as well as random harmonicas, which screech their way through “Back Against the Wall”. He goes briefly acoustic in parts, with the finger-picking “Apathy’s Callin’” getting decidedly and pointedly introspective (check the way he took the “g” off of “Calling” in that there title!).
There’s something of a Dylan cowpunk going through the busy but twanging melodies of “Mainstream Lifestyle Blues”, suggesting there’s about ten different rock personalities Messis would like to be. I’d rather he just kept putting on different hats, though: ‘Songs Of Our Times’ is as much a rollercoaster as a garage rock record can be.
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