Axis:Sova, Toupee, Hecks | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Axis:Sova, Toupee, Hecks 

When: Sat., March 7, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $8
Because I’m a drummer, you might expect Axis:Sova to piss me off—this local act, the solo project of Drag City staffer Brett Sova (formerly of Mass Shivers and Chandeliers), devotes its aesthetic almost entirely to an assertion of the primacy of the guitar in rock. On Axis: Sova’s second LP, Early Surf, released last month by Ty Segall’s Drag City imprint God? Records, repetitive licks glint, spin, dive, and leap; blown-apart chords scatter on the wind, shivered to bits by simmering tremolo and chattering delay; and baroque screaming leads bob and weave around the stereo field like chrome-plated wasps. Aside from those layers and layers of guitars, the only other instrument playing notes is the plush, chunky analog keyboard added here and there by Jeremiah Chiu (of Chandeliers and Icy Demons, among others). The vocals rarely seem concerned with foreground melody, favoring a mush-mouthed rock ’n’ roll drawl or an urgent chant, and they’re often heavily processed—given a telephonic midrange pinch, for instance, or contorted into sci-fi swoops and smears. And the percussion? Mostly a plinky early-70s drum machine (a Roland TR-66 Rhythm Arranger, to be specific), repeating a one- or two-bar pattern without variation. One song uses a maraca; on another you can barely hear Sova abusing a floor tom, snare, and cymbal. But you know what? I don’t mind. Even though the percussion is buried, minimal, or absent, the music maintains a relentless pulse—beneath its sizzling six-string acrobatics, there’s a visceral, congested throb that connects the high-flying fireworks to the earth. For this release party, Sova will be joined by his usual full-band lineup: guitarist Tim Kaiser (not the Minnesota instrument inventor) and bassist Tyson Torstensen (of Magical Beautiful). —Philip Montoro

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