Dan Melchior is on Castle Face Records, which pretty much says everything that a prospective listener needs to know. Hunger is a compilation of sorts that contains various unreleased and obscure back catalogue works by Melchior, the proceeds of which go to funding the cancer treatment of Melchior’s wife. Castle Face Records owner, manager, and resident party animal John Dwyer1 chose the tracklisting.
Garage rock albums can be wonderfully diverse or frustratingly narrow-minded; Hunger reflects the former. There’s the weird acoustic psychedelia of “Birdz,” the spoken word of “Spooky Eyes,” and the sing-along title track. If Hunger is to chronicle a garage rock musician’s many possible flavors, then it does its job very effectively. This is a solid selection of Melchior’s best songsperiments, and it evades the garage rock pitfall of ten tracks that rehash a single idea and obfuscate it with excessive fuzz so nobody can tell.2 3
With respect to Dwyer’s role, the majority of tracks certainly show some resemblance to the more recent Thee Oh Sees albums, with respect to the tracks “Robotic Footprints” and “Her Incredible Shoes.” Melchior has Dwyer’s nasal and ambiguously accented vocal delivery, which is best demonstrated on “Schadenfreude.”
Yes, Hunger has several songs that are typical of SoCal garage rock: extreme fuzz, pedal abuse, influence from 60s psychedelic rock bands, and production so loud that the clipping is not only flagrant but part of the appeal. But combine this with songwriting chops and just enough eclecticism to be engaging but not overwhelming – see “Parakeet” – and you’ve got a solid compilation with a cause that’s as good as the music sounds.4
1. A Wizard Doesn’t Need a Computer – (2:16) – ★★★★★
2. Night of Fear (Move) – (3:15) – ★★★☆☆
3. Rip It to Pieces – (1:53) – ★★★★☆
4. Robotic Footprints – (3:40) – ★★★★★
5. Birdz – (3:21) – ★★★★☆
6. Dungeon Blues – (4:08) – ★★★★☆
7. Hunger – (2:39) – ★★★☆☆
8. Her Incredible Shoes – (3:23) – ★★★★☆
9. Spooky Eyes – (3:00) – ★★★★★
10. Schadenfreude – (2:10) – ★★★★☆
11. Parakeet – (5:00) – ★★★★★
12. Town Feelings – (3:59) – ★★★★☆
1Of Thee Oh Sees, Coachwhips, etc. and seemingly friends with everyone in SoCal. Honestly seems like a pretty cool guy from everything I’ve read about him. John, if you’re reading this: wanna get pizza sometime?
2Take note, Ty Segall.
3This is my biggest damn peeve with the indie-garage scene.
4Hey, it’s the “Be My Baby”-beat on the closing track!