Power duos are few and far between, and Giant Drag is a whirling merry-go-round of distorted guitar and noise that trashes the idea of asking anyone else to join the band. The school of Kevin Shields drives out more half-assed slackers than there’s room to joke about, but Giant Drag has its own thing goin’ on, and the band’s debut sees glory in both the quiet moments and the screw-the-neighbors choruses.
The stoned, wall-of-fuzz atmosphere that’s unfortunately absent from most of the idling bullshit artists that start Slowdive tribute bands is quite noticeable on the Giant Drag debut, but the album’s song structures aren’t to be overlooked. Singer/songwriter Annie Hardy manages to get her slightly pissed, slightly somniferous vocals past her own distortion and tremolo pedals on most of Hearts and Unicorns, if not the whole record. She’s challenged on a lot of it by a barrage of her own doing; the screeching, muddy tones of her guitar and the keys and drums of Micah Calabrese, whom she asked to join her now-two-person band.
The two plow through a selection of ill-chosen titles on Hearts, cribbing Sabbath or Cream on “My Dick Sux” until the chorus, when the dreamy bended notes of the shoegazer-guitar era creep in, stealing any remnants of classic rock and burying them deep under a mess of distant sexual innuendo and cymbals. Triumphs are many on Hearts and Unicorns, and the chaotic mess that makes up “This Isn’t It” (also on their Lemona EP) speaks volumes for their achievements. They keep a circus of dissonance nearby, but never too close to bury the songs’ memorable melodies.