Chad Ubovich is hardly the first sideman to decide he wants the chance to step out on his own, and after playing guitar with Mikal Cronin and bass in Ty Segall's Fuzz project, Ubovich is delivering his own band of West Coast garage/psych/punk noise with his band Meatbodies. If you're familiar with what Cronin and Segall do, you're not far off from what Ubovich has up his sleeve on Meatbodies' self-titled debut album, culled from material that first appeared on a series of singles, though Ubovich is a stronger guitarist than most of the folks following this path, boasting hard rock chops that bring a greater degree of swagger and precision to this music. Meatbodies sounds tight and forceful, though there's just enough slop here to favor the buzzy, acid-textured tone of the melodies and give Ubovich a chance to let his solos wander free into the path of dissonance if he's in a mood. Ubovich gives Meatbodies a big, bass-leaning sound, and even relatively easygoing tracks like "Plank" and "The Master" grow into towering monoliths of guitar and rhythm by the time they play themselves out. Ubovich and his recording partners (including Cory Thomas Hanson, Erik Jimenez, and Riley Youngdahl) know how to bring the rock and invite the trippy spirit, but as a songwriter, Ubovich still seems to be getting his sea legs; many of these tracks seem to be more about jamming than delivering melodies that will stay with you after the record comes to a close. Which is to day Meatbodies suffers from the same Achilles' Heel that hobbles many sidemen who step out on their own -- the leader sure knows how to play, but he doesn't have much practice writing songs, and that may be where Ubovich should focus his energies for the next Meatbodies LP, since he's already got the guitar work covered.
by Mark Deming