by Nick Hanover
The copy on Gloves’ page makes the bold assertion that the band “does not play rock & roll,” but instead is a new genre dubbed “anti-garage.” That’s cute and all, especially if you never caught a whiff of the A-Frames and that whole anti-garage scene they messily birthed last decade (no worries, friend, you’re not alone in asking who the fuck the A-Frames are, so sit back and dig into this), but I don’t know that it does justice to Gloves’ frankly more unique sound. Where the Pacific Northwest strain of anti-garage fervor pulls from the weird dark early spots of Can and the Birthday Party sphere of post-punk, Gloves are more focused on the funky mutant disco influenced krautrock devotees that sprang up in Manchester and New York at basically the same time in the late ’70s.
Let me make it clear: I am totally cool with this. Personally, I never understood why Liquid Liquid and A Certain Ratio weren’t getting namechecked as influences as frequently as Gang of Four were in the early aughts, anyway. You listen to something like ACR’s “Shack Up” and the only way you aren’t getting hooked is if you’re a body snatcher or some other interstellar impostor. Ditto Liquid Liquid’s “Scraper.” Gloves seem to have caught on to this historical injustice and are doing their part to fix the timestream throughout their debut LP Get It Together, clinging as much to the “future funk” end of their Bandcamp tagging as that questionable “anti-garage” business.
Tune into “A Little Deeper,” one of the funkier moments on Get It Together, and what you hear isn’t some Thee Oh Sees dig or a track aligned with A-Frames garage fatalism but a svelte dancefloor burner. “A Little Deeper” makes good on the promise of its title, side eying indie rock’s current obsession with big dumb rhythms as it pairs a chameleonic ACR beat with vocals that HEALTH would be happy to pillage. The guitars are shapeshifters, putting on the skin of everything from afrobeat to post-punk to psych rock but that liquid cool beat is omnipresent, never riding out an obvious groove but instead looking for hidden opportunities. So maybe it’s “anti-garage” as in the band basically urges you to ditch the garage, coat your shoes in talcum powder, get sliding.
This isn’t to say Gloves are always so eager to help you put some swagger in your hips. “Bobbi & Whitney” removes all the reverb from the drumline at the heart of Can’s “Mushroom” and sprinkles hypnotically morose atonal riffs over top, with some yelps guiding the way to a chorus that makes you imagine the !!!/At the Drive-In team-up that never was. The disco rhythm making up the backbone of “Diamonds” gets thwarted by sudden stops and a guitar line that swerves away from a predictable progression. Even “Autobus,” which has handclaps, a White Stripes guitar line and a schoolyard chant melody, is so fucking weird my guess is any dance floor it’s laid on would drop their jaws en masse and have an aneurysm. The more I listen to it, the more certain I am it’s actually that “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” novelty song spruced up in post-post-punk clothing. Which is honestly pretty damn great.
What’s not as great is “Hot Checks,” an unfortunate opener for the album that has the feel of a latter day Modest Mouse song, except with Anthony Kiedis assuming frontman duties for Isaac Brock. I mention “Hot Checks” mostly out of caution, first to the listener, to inform them that it is not a good representative of what follows, and then to the band, in the hopes that they keep this more “mainstream” sampling of their future funk in check. As far as nadirs go, though, you could get much worse than “Hot Checks.”
All told, Get It Together is a remarkable debut that rewards listeners willing to join Gloves in going “anti-garage” and opening themselves up to new, less travelled sounds. The whole east Austin quadrant Gloves have been forced to cozy up to could stand a few more anti-garage injections like this, if only to shine a light on the musical homogenization encroaching on that turf as quickly as the more obvious threat of condos and DWI lawyers looking to get some viral fame with boneheaded sticker campaigns.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover