Review: BLAHA – Fresh Horse
National Music Reviews
BLAHA = The Blind Shake + Dirty Fences
BLAHA is the solo project of Mike Blaha of The Blind Snake and Shadow in the Cracks. This EP was written and recorded by BLAHA at Banana Tone—which he also owns and operates. It was mastered by Crypt Records’ own Tim Warren. Like his primary groups, BLAHA steeps his sound in a contemporary garage rock genre. He emphasizes a style utilizing mid-tempo grooves that mix surf and indie-inspired garage rock n’ roll. Think of a much slower Ramones-style sound in the same vein as Dirty Fences, but with a less raucous approach.
“The Day We Were Born” is an easy listening, moody mid-tempo groover. Lyrically, it seems to pay homage to a relationship, which I’m guessing is the BLAHA brothers’. It’s a track backed up by a stomping beat with rolling surfy riffs. This is something to play in the background and not be too concerned about it.
“Fresh Horse,” by comparison, is a fuzzed-out garage rock monster. This is the kind of raw and unbridled noise that I should expect from BLAHA. Its distorted nature reminds me of Salt Lake City’s Brain Bagz. In other words, it’s like a garage-punk-stomper brother from another mother.
“All My Cells” is a slightly mellower stomper. It relies on fuzzy distortion to make its point. Like “Fresh Horse,” this is a track that readily reminds me of The Blind Shake. Both are short and sweet, but devastatingly deadly.
Overall, Fresh Horse is an interesting novelty. While Slovenly may suggest that the moody tracks like “The Day We Were Born” are somewhat unique to their catalog, these tracks are pinnacles to supporting the raw and rash fuzz that these rock n’ rollers found within other grooves, much like on the A-side of this EP. They provide a subtle break from the brain bashing that you get from tracks like “All My Cells.”
If you are familiar with BLAHA’s previous works, Fresh Horse is not quite a departure. Rather, it’s a continuation of the same style that is readymade for the ears. It’s garage punk at its contemporary finest. BLAHA doesn’t tempt his listeners with a revivalist method that sounds sweet and lures them into an album or single with promises of nostalgia. Instead, BLAHA gives his listeners something new and exciting to be overwhelmed by. This EP is garage punk with the bittersweet hopes of moody poppy goodness.
BLAHA’s Fresh Horse is a followup to his debut, indie-meets-psychedelic rock The Art of Not—also released in 2017 through Wet Bridge Records. Fresh Horse will no doubt be flying off shelves and onto people’s turntables. Be sure to cruise on over to Slovenly Recordings and get yourself a copy. For more about BLAHA, visit his discogs section or go directly to the BLAHA Slovenly Recordings section. Then dig in and check out all that this rad artist—and label—has to offer. Fans of cool and obscure garage rock will be glad they did. –Nick Kuzmack