By Erik Myers
It’s still fashionable to rip on reverb, right? All signs point to yes, so long as the basement-dwelling, tape-recording, knob-addled guitar geeks keep it up. There’s a ton of it out there, and less creative hands have saturated the market. Fortunately, Colorado has seen more good than bad, with acts like Gauntlet Hair and the various incarnations of M. Pyres & Co. making the case. School Knights, from Boulder, piles on to the good vibrations: Their new full-length, All Dawgz Go 2 Heaven, is loaded with it.
But School Knights would mean nothing without the great guitar hooks, a natural byproduct of guitarist Michael Stein, who exemplified similar talent in the output of his other project Weed Diamond. The difference is that while the music isn’t necessarily more accessible, it still feels a lot more casual and frankly enjoyable.
Tracks like “Ghost Kid” and “Jam” are built on wide circular grooves, while opener “Prom Queen” sees Stein trying out a articulate riff that’s a few degrees shy of Hella. The vocals, spewed through a grainy filter, are almost grating. But there are a few moments, like on “Bullies,” where they sound at home in the mesh of guitar and Zach Riof’s barreling drumming, which, fierce as it is, is buried deep into the mix.
It’s true – School Knights sounds a lot like Wavves: vocal and guitar distortion, pop-inflected melodies and a kind of irreverence that wears sunglasses, so one can’t tell if they’re winking or not (see key track “Fuck The Beach.”) Regardless, good fuzz deserves good buzz.