Creative Adult: Psychic Mess

Make no mistake about it, Northern California's Creative Adult are a punk rock band, but they're playing with more than just three chords and attitude. After releasing an EP and a handful of singles in the past couple of years, the band headed to Montreal to record their debut album with Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Efrim Menuck, a wise choice for their blend of post-punk, goth and shoegaze aesthetics.

And that's apparent right off the bat. Album opener "Control My Eyes" opens with dark, ominous chords and moaning vocals drenched in reverb before it erupts into a rousing garage stomp. Lead singer Scott Philips used to be the frontman for hardcore stalwarts Life Long Tragedy, but he's traded in his guttural bark for a disenchanted style that's reminiscent of Fugazi's Guy Picciotto. The vocals aren't the only thing these two bands have in common; Fugazi's meaty stop-and-go style is utilized wholeheartedly on the dramatic "Flash."

Menuck's atmospheric production is at its best on the instrumental title track. It's a creepy, sinewy number with serpentine guitar lines and space-rock undercurrents before it metamorphoses into a smashing free-for-all. "Everyone Knows Everyone" comes across as a beefed-up Buzzcocks playing in a dank basement, while "Exposed" features a dusty synthesizer and urgent vocals about exploding heads. Think the Human League meets the Wipers. Like TSOL, the Big Boys and the Gun Club before them, Creative Adult aren't afraid to play hardcore, real horror show-like.

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