Before hearing Axis: Sova’s newest album called Motor Earth I had no idea who he was. Yes, Axis: Sova is a he. That’s the name Chicago guitarist Brett Sova goes by when creating grainy garage rock albums. If you’re at all familiar with DIY, scuzzy rock gods like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Kelley Stoltz, and the late Jay Reatard, then you already have an idea of what Sova is up to. He’s not out to win you over with ballads or retro electronic music. Sova is out to melt frontal lobes with serious guitar riffage, the kind you heard blasting through speakers as Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum spun on the turntable. Imagine The Jimi Hendrix Experience as a punk band and you’re in the right mindset as you start up Motor Earth.
There’s nothing hi fidelity about Axis: Sova, and that’s quite alright. A song like “Love Identity” just wouldn’t carry the water it does garbled and hissy if it was crisp and clear. There’s an aged quality to its sped-up boogie, as if you came across some mildewed album tucked away in the attic of the house you just bought. Putting it on the turntable you can’t tell if it’s from 2016 or 1969. Brett Sova makes it clear in this opening salvo that what’s important here is the guitar. His fluid jamming is tantamount throughout the eight and a half minute run time. Just crack open another Red Stripe, light another Camel, and let the music be your guide. “(Like An) Intruder” is four on the floor rock and roll. It’s like T.Rex covering Joy Division’s “Interzone”. “Sanity Range” has a 70s strut to it, with an almost early Aerosmith vibe but with more of a punk attitude. “Unraveling” has a psychedelic sprawl to it as Sova’s guitar contorts and screeches through stomp boxes and an almost post-punk dirge. New York’s White Hills comes to mind as I let this track blow over me like some post-apocalyptic cloud. “Violent Yellow” sounds as if KISS and Hawkwind somehow morphed into a rock and roll thing-that-should-not-be. “Emoticog” mixes and matches post-punk urgency with a jaunty space blues vibe. “Routine Machine” ends the album with a mix of Blue Oyster Cult stomp and classic garage rock middle finger wagging.
After listening to Axis: Sova’s Motor Earth a few times I’m definitely glad to know who he is now. A Midwestern noisemaker that reminds me of a lot of bands I love(an Axis: Sova/White Hills bill would be pretty amazing.) But more than anything his inspirations don’t get in the way of hearing a singular artist. Guitar freakouts, punk attitude, and a spirit of epic garage jams are all over Motor Earth. Put this in your ears as soon as you can.
Album is out October 14th, 2016 via Drag City.
7.7 out of 10