Stream Guitar’s Fractured, Surreal New Indie Rock Album Casting Spells On Turtlehead

Stream Guitar’s Fractured, Surreal New Indie Rock Album Casting Spells On Turtlehead

First: Guitar is a badass name for a band. Second: this is a new Guitar, not the early aughts shoegaze band Guitar (who are also very good). Third: If you’re going to name your band Guitar, you’d better have very cool guitars.

Thankfully, Guitar do indeed have very cool guitars. Largely the solo project of Portland’s Saia Kuli, Guitar released a self-titled debut cassette in 2022. On Bandcamp, Kuli describes the record’s genesis: “These songs were written and recorded over the past 8 months in my bedroom by me with the occasional vocal overdubs of my partner Jonny…I plugged my guitar with a 1/4″ cable right into ableton, and used it as both guitar and bass, sequenced drums in ableton and frankensteined songs piece by piece.”

The 2022 self-titled EP, released on Portland DIY label Spared Flesh, is frankensteined as advertised, but the chaos is exhilarating — a cacophonous blend of indie rock and blistering punk over seven brief songs. Kuli names R.E.M, Hole, and Guided By Voices as guiding lights, but those influences have been thrown into the blender and thoroughly pulverized.

On Wednesday, Guitar put out their new album, Casting Spells On Turtlehead, this time a split release between Spared Flesh and the ascendent Philadelphia label Julia’s War. This release expands the base of contributors, as well as the band’s sonic horizons. The blurb on Bandcamp calls it “negative, angular rock,” and I think that Negative Rock is a great term to sum up the swirling mix of sounds. There’s layers of post-punk, warped shoegaze, unpredictable rhythms, and little diversions into more experimental territory. “Baying Of Dogs” starts with pinprick guitars and murmured vocals and slowly melts into psychedelic chord changes. “Create Mode” is a fuzzy steamroller that swerves unpredictably between heavy riffs. Lead single “One Unit Of Chaos” has the unsettling groove of the noisier Alex G songs, new textures continually bubbling to the surface.

There’s hints of noise and experimental rock in the songs’ blunt force, but the center of everything is warm, tuneful bedroom pop vocals. I hear a blend of equal parts Feeble Little Horse, They Are Gutting A Body Of Water, and Ovlov: churning, loud-ass guitars that threaten to bury the melodic vocal hooks at the center. It’s aggressive and laconic, music made in a bedroom that sounds like it’s exploding and then swallowing itself like a black hole forming. It’s negative rock, and it’s a really interesting step forward for Guitar.

Stream the album below.

Casting Spells On Turtlehead is available through Spared Flesh and Philadelphia-based label Julia’s War Records (who, like a lot of young bands and new DIY labels, are most active on Instagram). Guitar is playing shows in DIY spaces and basements around Portland. Keep an eye out on Instagram or ask a punk: you’ll find them eventually.

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