Boa Constrictors - Nice Try! (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Boa Constrictors

Nice Try! (2012)


When we last left Boa Constrictors, the pseudonym of Joe Astle, he was 17 and had just released the promising Anomic album. Now, he's 18 (or so) and in a mere 12 months has made good on that promise and then some with Nice Try!.

Although Astle is barely old enough to be able to buy a pack of smokes, his work shows a maturity elusive for most artists until their 50s. Nice Try was recorded in Southern California and it sounds that way. The music is based off of mid-'60s garage rock and mid-'60s Beach Boys warm melancholy. The intersection is deft in that it allows the riffage and catchiness of early rock, but with soft organ and harmonies gives the songs mournful depth that most contemporary garage rockers completely leave out. Astle's voice likewise fits in with the retro-futura tunes. The low end has the clean openness of youth, but as his voice rises, the wispy static of old age covers the edges.

It's striking how mature (and lonesome) Astle sounds when he's still under 20. While most people his age are cruising around trying to pick up girls, Astle seems to have already become a veteran of heartbreak with lines like "I wish you meant what you said when you said it." This album is an open soul LP. By bearing his insides so readily, Astle has created an exhibit that is relatable in its common themes, but is also otherworldly from the world weariness coming from such a young fellow.

Likewise, the production of the record might be what takes it from good to great. While the album has a slightly raw feel, giving the emotional lyrics even more pull, Astle (who also plays all the instruments) layers sound on top of sound in a Specter/Lee Perry combination that makes the album feel as big as an auditorium even though it was recorded in a garage. Yet, when it's quiet, it sounds like it's just him with a guitar in an attic.

But, the most masterful part comes along the second halves of his songs. Just as he's established an easy going, but slightly jagged riff echoing AM rock and folk-rock, behind the rhythm he'll drop a roaring guitar or screeching glass sound that gives the songs, despite their languid feel, a sense of imminent terror.

Usually, self-produced records with unique sounds are said to forecast future greatness. However, on Nice Try, Astle has matured and perfected his sound–the greatness is already here, no matter how lonesome ot may sound.

FORECAST DEPARTMENT: In five years, Boa Constrictors will be an "it" band or in 25 years they'll be an "undiscovered gem" that fetches $200 per LP on ebay, or on, or whatever they use in 2037.