It’s easy to think of garage rock as muddy, loud, and hard-driving but that’s not the extent of the garage palette by any means. Within the general auspices of a raw sound and humble recording circumstances, a top-notch band can create many kinds of magic, the most reliable, to my ears, being that grounded in melodic flair. (This is something often overlooked: how unerringly melodic a lot of garage rock turns out to be.) And not everything has to be fast and loud. Here we have a singularly satisfying piece of concise, garage-flavored rock’n’roll that launches off a sweet, nostalgic guitar lick (or, interlacing licks) and lopes along with off-handed grace.
“Shoot My Mouth Off” hinges musically and viscerally on the major-to-minor modulation on which verse turns to chorus (first heard at 0:55); it’s here that the song’s generous embrace of rock’n’roll past and present feels most emphatic, here where singer Shane Herrell glides across the subtle threshold of greatness. Don’t miss the bass line’s important punctuation marks in the chorus, and note too that Herrell is the bass player. Bands with singing bass players, in my experience, often give us beautifully textured songs. And Bread & Butter sport a lineup I don’t think I’ve seen before: a foursome in which neither guitar player sings; not only does bassist Herrell take lead vocals but drummer Mason Lowe sings back-up. Don’t underestimate the musical value of this arrangement.
Bread & Butter is from Seattle, with five songs released to date. You can hear them all on the band’s web site. “Shoot My Mouth Off” dates back to February, and is available as free and legal MP3 via KEXP, which is where I first heard this.