Erich Von Erik & The Stranger unearth the bones of garage-rock psychobilia with their new record Castle Life. The duo bring forth a twenty track, full-length effort of no-bullshit rock.  

It’s gutsy, twangy and totally distilled. Teetering between punk realism and surf surrealism, this album begs to be left alone in some dingy record store waiting to be dug up by an unsuspecting victim.  

Once played, all manner of hallucinogenic hell breaks loose. The listener is sucked into a kaleidoscopic vortex, falling endlessly to the sound of feedback, dischord and pounding drums.   

This record makes me want to take up smoking and stay up all night drinking cough syrup like Lester Bangs.  

The twangy guitar parts on “Squatching” bounce back and forth as if the chords and melodies are fighting with each other. Reminiscent of “Holiday in Cambodia” by Dead Kennedys, the song endeavors not only to encapsulate volatility, but to preserve it.   

Spastic guitars and drums are sandwiched between doubled-up vocals, filling out the mid-range frequencies in a way that creates space to enjoy each chaotic element of the song. The title track is a sugary surf jam lyrically exploring someone’s misfortune and perpetual fall from grace.   

Jangly guitars glimmer over a watery voice recounting the way things once were, urging listeners to manage their expectations.   

“Castle life ain’t what it used to be…,” the singer drones.   

“Daddy Was the Zodiac Killer” has us bathing in reverb. A slurry of sloppy guitars ring out like chainsaws over tight drums and thick bass lines. Throughout the record, the duo play with weird effects in a haphazardly playful manner, tweaking and wrangling tones as if it were an exact science. The guitar itself is like a character in this record. And as a proper sonic protagonist ought to do, it dies in the end. Miserably. And it is beautiful.  

 As music trends cycle like a snake eating its own tail, you’d be lucky to find a record that truly embodies a way of life that condemns mass-marketing and profitability through music. Erich von Erik do exactly that—releasing 20 tracks for free on Bandcamp.   

Many of the tracks explore themes of how shitty money can be and how it turns people into assholes. Not only does this album maintain its thematic integrity, the tracks also happen to be well-placed in a succession that highlights sonic versatility while creating a cohesive album. Yeah, yeah, the term rock n’ roll may be passé, but a record such as “Castle Life” may have you humming a different tune.   

Genres: Garage Rock, Punk, Slacker, Psychobilly, Rock n’ Roll  

Associated Acts: The Band From Planet X, Jerry Grey & The Suburban Bicycle Gang