Local acts Roid Rage and Swell Tides unveil new project

Written by on April 5, 2020

The best thing about garage rock is that it’s honest. It’s straight-forward, in your face and fun. Keyword, fun. There’s no pretentious bullshit surrounding it. You wouldn’t want it any other way. It just so happens that Swell Tides and Roid Rage sought out to encapsulate that sentiment with their recent collaborative project, SPLIT.

SPLIT consists of nine tricks. Four from Swell Tides, four from Roid Rage. In the middle is a cover of The Mummies’ “Sooprize Package for Mr. Mineo” (a cover of the Supercharger original) which features both bands playing together. The tracks were produced in part by Akron’s Electric Company Records, who also mastered the songs to analog tape. 

Based out of Kent, Ohio, Swell Tides is the project of independent musician Jordan King. Harboring the electric sounds from 60s garage, psychedelia, and pop, Swell Tides is able to add their own contemporary twist.

Roid Rage is based out of Akron, Ohio and consists of the following members: Jake Schott (guitar/vocals), Austin Kaufman (drums), and Zack Casey (bass, vocals). They churn out gut-wrenching riffs that grab your attention while also delivering catchy hooks. 

When you put the two of them together, these two entities of high energy, you get sounds that are unhinged and unapologetic. And most importantly, fun. The music of Swell Tides and Roid Rage overlap in several areas, but it’s obvious that they approach garage rock from different perspectives. Swell Tides is the sunnier psychedelic side of the mayhem, whereas Roid Rage is the primal scream brewing underground. 

King crafted one hell of a track with “Slow Too”, the album’s opening track from Swell Tides. Following a short buildup of loose strumming is the tight cadence of drumming paired with King’s distant vocals. It’s a one-step march to some mysterious place and before you can settle in to it, a trap door opens underneath you and the tempo accelerates. Before long, you’re in a psychedelic, downward spiral which is filled with jangly riffs and the sounds of an electric keyboard. Afterward, the song is stripped down for a groovy jam session. 

King doesn’t hesitate on pushing the sonic boundaries, letting fuzz and feedback roar in your ear. And the keys, the damn keys, they add another dynamic to the music. We see it utilized again on “Memory” and the result is something of a haunting melody.

Meanwhile, when you break away from the Swell Tides’ sphere of influence and head into Roid Rage country, you’re bombarded with serious volume.

Take a song like “The Switch”. You’re blindsided by a clobbering rhythm that has no regard for human life. The drumming only becomes more forceful and it isn’t long before the song completely unfolds into a chaotic burst of energy, spearheaded by a screeching guitar solo. All under two minutes, the Roid Rage specialty.

Yes, it’s no secret that the group prefers to churn out short songs but that doesn’t mean they stray away from longer cuts. “Ed’s Dead”, the album’s closer, makes that point known. Spanning over four minutes, the song features a hypnotic rhythm. At the center is a heavy, sludgy riff that drives the song, only stopping when the rhythm fluctuates. The rhythm stabilizes, then it fluctuates, then it drives into its explosive conclusion. 

It’s important to realize that both groups stick to their strengths for the duration of the project. They focus on the garage rock barebones and don’t necessarily explore too many avenues. But that’s not to say there’s a lack of variety. After all, you’re getting four tracks from both bands. There’s only so much you can squeeze into that window. And besides, sticking to your strengths does not mean being redundant.

SPLIT highlights two local acts that play with as much purpose and tenacity as anyone else in the area. Whether it is performing live or performing in the studio, it’s seemingly all the same. Furthermore, SPLIT allows you to get a taste of their respective palettes while displaying their ability to mesh together and belt out an impressive cover, ultimately paying homage to garage rock phenoms. 

Or as they put it: “..the meeting of minds between two young bands-a psychic syncopation of sounds and words made for the times.” 

Standout Tracks: Slow Too, Memory, Senator & Ed’s Dead 

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