Despite the musical worldliness made possible by that glorious series of tubes we call the Internet, it’s safe to say that our grasp on South America’s alternative scene is pretty shaky. Sure, most people are familiar with CSS, but if prompted to name 10 South American alternative acts, even the biggest audiophile may not be up to the task. But here’s one to start your list: psych-rock band Capsula, an Argentinean trio that, in its new LP, In The Land Of Silver Souls, crafts an impressive (and impressively catchy) blend of garage punk and psychedelia, with just the right dose of sunny surf pop.
As with all strains of garage, comparisons are inevitable. Lead singer Martin Guevara has a voice that isn’t too far off from Lou Reed’s gruff growl, albeit with a different accent. Backing singer/bassist Coni Duchess, meanwhile, sticks to the Kim Deal camp of moody vocals and steady bass rhythms. But rather than ape the sonic hallmarks of its influences, Capsula finds new ways to expand and explore the touchstones of the genre. “Communication,” for example, transforms a throwback surf-garage groove into a trippy jam with a creepily whispered refrain. Other tracks deliver the thrills of sweaty, lightning-in-a-bottle power pop. There’s lead single “Hit ’N’ Miss,” with its sweltering solos and subtle hand-claps, and “What’s In The Mirror,” a full-throttle barnstormer that coasts on the waves of a blissed-out solo halfway through before plummeting into the rapids again.
Like any good no-frills rock group, Capsula knows how lethal a misplaced ballad or sonic experiment can be; thankfully, there are no such buzzkills here. The only thing that even resembles rest is the sludgy blues of “The King Of The Rain.” And yet, while we all love fast songs, everyone knows the dangers of sameness. But the band avoids this mistake as well, through its careful use of shifts in tempo and its ability to break up any monotony with a good old-fashioned psychedelic groove.