The new cassette release No Organ from Indianapolis’s The Constants is a thoroughly satisfying piece of garage rock. The songs here share a style of doo-wop and bubblegum inflected garage rock that’s been run through the lo-fi ringer with current heavyweights like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. Remarkably, No Organ sounds refreshingly timeless, like a single that you could find in the back of the bin as easily in the sixties as today.
The band is at their catchiest on opener “Reigning Sorrows.” The melody sounds like it’s only just reaching escape velocity, just barely making it out of the speakers. The vocals swell in and out, sometimes allowing the beginnings and endings of lines to drift out of focus. The bass and guitar puncture the almost monochromatic wash of guitars at just the right frequency; the song never descends fully into noise, but neither does it fully coalesce. Instead, it rides the tension between melody and texture to great effect.
The closing track, “Darkness of the Night,” however, is the real zinger here. The song’s blues architecture morphs as the song progresses, collapsing over the song’s four-minute length into a buzzing swirl. All of this, of course, would be totally unconvincing if The Constants hadn’t somehow found a way to make the sounds they use, which have been used countless times before by countless other groups, convincingly their own. And though they’re not yet totally successful, they do seem to be developing a voice that’s recognizably their own, one that cuts through the familiar fuzz and borrowed melodic turns. That voice is loudest by far on “Darkness of the Night.”
Indiana label Auris Apothecary released this album, which seems fitting. Though the cassette wasn’t encased in wax or wrapped around in brightly colored condoms — both of which have graced past Auris releases — the music itself shares a tone with many other Auris releases. There’s a certain fondness for the strange ephemera of rock music, the bits that are hard to find or that can’t be reproduced. Somehow the songs on this single manage to feel like the songs you read about as a kid but never find, because even the Internet hasn’t managed to scrounge up a copy. That feeling alone is worth the price of entry, and it’s only sweetened by the strong songwriting.