ALBUM REVIEW: Clear Plastic Masks “Being There”

Clear Plastic Masks


The first thing I want to know is: how many cigarettes do I have to smoke to sound like Andrew Katz?  I’m entertaining the thought of purchasing a carton…or eight.  Nashville-based rock quartet Clear Plastic Masks have just released their debut album Being There on Serpents and Snakes Records, and it’s nothing short of brazenly badass.  In this moment of ambient, minimal, chill-wave anti-sound it’s endlessly comforting to hear a band that makes no apologies for their lack of ambiguity.  These guys make pure rock and roll, no holds barred. However, their allegiance to a classic sound doesn’t betray their ability to be relevant – they in no way sound dated or cliché.  These are just four guys, playing their hearts out, and maybe losing a lung or liver in the process.

Being There is a fully fleshed-out record equipped with the proper instrumental formula to give me an eargasm (did somebody say organ????)  There’s just something about good old guitar, bass, drums, and a B3 that gets me.  Throw in a front man with a voice like gravel and molasses in a food processor, and well, I’m sold.

One of the most positive aspects of the record, aside from how tight the band plays and how attentively it’s produced is the diversity it conveys. CPM is the kind of group that could very easily record a handful of songs that are indiscernible from one another, and yet the album provides an admirable range of sounds without coming off as disjointed. The first two tracks on the LP, “In Case You Forgot” and “Outcast,” are characteristically raucous, whereas “Baby Come On” takes us to a slow, sexy place with twangy doo-wop guitar and the sultrier side of Katz’s barrelhouse voice. “Pegasus In Glue” returns the listener to the realm of snotty scuzz rock that could easily share a bill with Black Lips or a Southern-fried version of The Strokes.  The distant reverb in the vocal track makes for a more punk audio profile, and it’s certainly a jam to bounce around to.

Throughout the remainder of the record the boys volley between references to Blues, Soul, Gospel, traditional Hawaiian music (“Aliens”), and maybe even a little Randy Newman (“Hungry Cup”). Being There’s closer, the down-tempo ballad “Working Girl,” is probably the least innovative piece on the LP, but it’s nowhere near a bad song – just a little more sonically generic and lyrically unoriginal than the rest of the album.

With so much momentum from their very first record, I suspect these fellas have a few more in ‘em at the very least.  That is, if they don’t wear themselves out first.

Check out Being There in full via Spin Magazine here.