Gen Pop The Beat Sessions cassette

It’s often an impossible balancing act to teeter between sounding smart and acting tough, but it’s all the more intimidating when you can pull it off. This Washington-based four-piece is pulling up from a lot of deep wells, from straight-ahead bruising punk with an old-school flavor to more jangly ’80s New Zealand pop, and it blends well. Their previous full-length (2020’s PPM66 LP) showed this off handily, but hearing them in a live session like this really demonstrates prowess. A flexile track like “Rough Slough Triptych” does an entire floor routine before planting its feet firmly in polka beat, fist-swinging garage punk to stick the landing. This set of tunes flows breathlessly from three-minute heartfelt anthems to forty-second-long floor burners, leaving a perfect snapshot of a band that is imposing in how much they can get done in how little time—an almost endlessly re-playable release.

Oog Bogo The Beat Sessions cassette

When this act dropped their Plastic LP earlier this year, I was not a fan. It seemed like yet another herky-jerky solo affair in an already overcrowded field, and the record struck me as being superficially wacky or out-there (an impression I think I got from its record cover). But maybe most significantly, the album’s production just kinda left me cold. The guitars sounded thin, squishy, and percussive—at times, almost like they’d been programmed on an SNES—and the vocals were too forward in the mix, really breaking the illusion that these songs were being played by a band. So, I hastily filed this away as being fine but not for me. Now, look, we all make mistakes. If you’re unfamiliar with the Beat Sessions series, the deal with them is that sound engineer Mike Kriebel invites a band to drop by his Golden Beat studio in Los Angeles for a one-day, high-quality, live-ish recording session that he then releases as a cassette (it’s essentially a modern-day Peel session). For this twelfth installment, OOG BOGO (a.k.a. Kevin Boog from MEATBODIES) is joined by a handful of folks to more or less re-record that entire LP in a looser, live setting. Seriously! Seven of the eleven LP tracks are represented here, along with three quarters of their 2020 EP and a KLEENEX cover (“DC10”). And this just worked for me this time…like, a lot! The songs are faster, and the production is much more immediate—this thing really beats the hell out of you like you’re in the room with the band. What’s wild is that pretty much all the parties involved in the LP’s recording (at least TY SEGALL and Mike Kriebel) are also present here, perhaps in slightly different roles. In any case, hearing these songs in a new context allowed me to appreciate them for what they are—well-written, intricately constructed, genuinely out-there bangers that are equal parts psychedelic pop, SPITS-y downstroke punk (particularly in their dum-dum harmonies), and whatever you want to call Here Come the Warm Jets or the A-side of DAVID BOWIE’s Low. Revisiting the LP, I still think some of my original complaints are warranted, but I’m willing to admit that I was wrong—it’s an excellent album. Still, this collection of tunes is nevertheless an improvement over that. Stellar stuff!