A couple years ago, I decided to have my cat Chester neutered. I took him to a rural vet, and I agreed to take him back home pretty much right when the procedure was finished. The vet gave Chester a dose of ketamine (a common animal tranquilizer) to knock him out while keeping him conscious. It took most of that day for Chester to come out of the k-hole enough to even be able to walk on his own, and I was told to make sure to keep his nose out of his blankets as he could easily asphyxiate and his brain wouldn’t be able to move his body to prevent it. In other words: the shit messed him up.
So maybe it’s not surprising that the best musical trip to come out of this end of the world in the past while is an LP by a band called Ketamines.
Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but Lethbridge, Alberta has been a hot-bed of lo-fi, basement/bedroom-recorded garage-surf-psych-punk-a-delia for the past three or four years. At the core of this movement has been upstart record label Mammoth Cave, which has put out a myriad of 7-inch releases over that time. They started out by putting out releases by mostly Alberta bands like The Mandates, The Famines, Krang and Fist City, as well as the ‘provincial’ Bloodstains series, which to date features release from BC, Alberta, Ontario and the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba). They have since branched into releasing work by out-of-province bands, as well as full-length releases, including BA Johnston’s latest LP, Hi Dudes! and re-issues of Ontario instrumental legends Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet.
Mammoth Cave’s 28th release is a full-length by Lethbridge band Ketamines. Featuring members of a slew of other bands (as is the case with many bands in the small but prolific scene), Ketamines brings together past collaborators James Leroy and Mammoth Cave co-mastermind Paul Lawton. After releasing their “Line by Line” 7-inch on Chicago garage label HoZac, if was evident that Ketamines had something worth paying attention to. With their infectious hooks buttressed by lo-fi (but not too lo-fi) garage-psych rhythms, Ketamines set out to record their debut full-length Spaced Out.
On Spaced Out, Ketamines manage to keep the playful DIY attitude without letting things get too gimmicky or messy. This is fun music to be taken seriously; sloppy without being too sloppy. This idea is perfectly encapsulated by “Lust for Life”-y album opener “Teenage Rebellion Time,” which showcases the band’s catchy pop chops without going too far over the edge.
But it’s not all bratty pop for Ketamines, though attention to melody is a common thread. After “Teenage Rebellion Time,” the album continues with a combination of psychedelic explorations (“1 Yr,” “Skin Trade,” “The Runaround”), surf-flecked jams (“Ketamine Babies” and “No Grand Design”) and straight-up garage-pop janglers (“Midnight Dawn,” “Kill Me Now,” “Evil Intentions”).
Spaced Out is sort of like a culmination of everything that’s been going on in Lethbridge over the last few years, and hopefully it will turn more than a few eyes to what Mammoth Cave has been doing, as well of course to Ketamines themselves. I can’t speak to the medicinal or hallucinogenic properties of taking ketamine, but I would gladly prescribe this record for whatever ails ya.
The Jay of Spades
Record DetailsReleased: 2012
Record Label: Mammoth Cave