About half a year ago, the Kingston-based trash rock trio Lovesick released the single “Discoverer” in advance of its debut EP. It was a curious overture in that it is mostly instrumental. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Amari offers a few jittery blues hiccups throughout the course of its two-and-a-half electrified and audacious minutes, but the only words in the song are “one,” “two,” “three” and “four.” Still, “Discoverer” is loaded with memes, messaging and style coordinates. It rocks demonstratively, unfolding like a well-conceived positioning statement. Utterly trashed but utterly tight, hyperactive and attention-deficient in its groove and reference shifts, its ballpark might be described as garage/surf/blues/punk/grunge. Hell of a ballpark, I know. Mostly, it sounds like someone being electrocuted and loving it.
If I am going to use the word “primitive” again – and I don’t see how I can work without it, in the current Hudson Valley music environment – then there must be an understanding between us that primitivism is in no way incompatible with sophistication. I do not mean sophistication of rationale: the dense intellectual underpinnings of snot and sneer and abused, low-hanging guitars as taught at NYU. No, I mean sophistication of musical conception and execution.
Across its six live-wire, slithery, rumbustious, raw and echo-soaked tracks, the Lovesick EP gets a lot done on a lot of levels. One by one it enumerates its deep references and influences – Howlin’ Wolf, Dick Dale, the 13th Floor Elevators, the Sonics, old spirituals and rural oddities, Nirvana, the Strokes, White Stripes and – dare I suggest it? – the heavy riffing blues appropriations of Led Zeppelin. Meanwhile, Amari builds and inhabits a consistent persona as a singer/lyricist: nervy and nervous, a bit ghoulish, a bit squirrelly, a bit carnal and dangerous. It becomes increasingly clear that this fine band – Amari, drummer Adam Armstrong and bassist Eli Walker – is playing a thoroughly (post-) modern kind of hard rock despite all the retro referencing, the garage vibe and the haunted atavism of the songs.
So Lovesick has finally released its long-teased debut EP, and will celebrate with a release show at BSP in Kingston this Friday, March 21. At the hands of one of the region’s most vital and risk-taking engineers, Isokon’s D. James Goodwin, the EP is delicately, gloriously trashed. It’s downright sexy-sounding, and that is not a word that I use often or lightly.
In this way, Lovesick sits right at the center of a surprising primitive rock revival taking place here in the Hudson Valley. The movement is based, arguably, out of Hudson, where musician, critic and promoter Peter Aaron keeps it raw and raucous; but the reverberations can be heard throughout the region – especially in Kingston, where clubs like the Anchor and BSP specialize in visceral and cathartic rock ‘n’ roll, which can also be quite crafty, subtle and slick in its own way.