The Growlers

Chinese Fountain

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The fourth long-player from the self-described "beach goth" collective named after the fetid handiwork of a fruitful outhouse visit and not the more commonplace brewpub takeout vessel of the same moniker, Chinese Fountain sports a derelict mix of psych-tinged surf rock, reggae-pop, dub, new wave, and country that's as bonfire- and hallucinogen-ready and as it is hopelessly ramshackle. An easygoing, distinctly Californian vibe permeates much of the album, as does a tendency to drift off (stylistically) in musical conversation that suggests some choice herbs and fermented grains were utilized during its creation, but the Growlers are amiable enough hosts that the listener never has to endure any epic guitar soloing or shamanistic beach poetry, let alone a song over four and a half minutes. Standout tracks like the dub-ska-kissed "Dull Boy," the evocative, Jim Morrison-inspired "Purgatory Drive," and the spacy, white-boy funk-blasted title cut suggest Camper Van Beethoven by way of Kurt Vile, but too much of Chinese Fountain is spent in search of an engaging melody. The band's laconic, devil-may-care charm is evident throughout the 11-track set, but they seemingly lacked the follow-through to ensure that their deal with the cloven-hoofed and bifurcated-tailed swindler included the ability to conjure up some hooks.

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