Rich Serafin

Naked Monsters

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Far too often the concept of home recording has equaled tossed-off demos, but increasingly there are examples where rockers at home actually make an effort to get a sound to work. Thus Rich Serafin's enjoyable solo debut with Naked Monsters, a brief but entertaining collection that pushes the right woozy psych/drone buttons for those inclined to that sound. Serafin wears his influences on his sleeve, admittedly -- right from the start his love of acts like the Velvet Underground, Television, and more can be heard on "Rise Like the Sun." Similar re-combinations of those bands, plus many of their influences (and followers), can be heard throughout, and at no time does he come up with something truly new and distinctive. But he puts together the pieces very well, getting a full band sound that works out of all the instruments he plays -- the combination of rolling drums and freakfuzz solos and soft singing feels much more like an actual band jam than something carefully assembled. Opening and closing songs aside, generally speaking, Naked Monsters tends towards the quieter, moodier side of narcotic dreaminess, and often just plain nails it -- "Old Worm" starts with a perfect gentle melody, then builds up the arrangement to a great, gently propulsive zoned-and-stoned number, topped off with some of his strongest singing. If anything he shows how he can often find a sound that Spiritualized in particular aim for without apparently spending months in the studio and using tons of people to create a similar end result (though admittedly songs like "Amblin'" recall Jason Pierce's earlier work in Spacemen 3 rather than the later). His self-production keeps a warm edge to the proceedings while not drowning everything in reverb -- thus the carefully precise strum that starts and then forms the core of "Time Takes Time."

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