Tony Molina has played in a LOT of bands – a rough estimate would put it at about 14 bands. But OVENS are the band where you can really hear Tony developing the sound / style that he would fully realize in his solo career, which started around 2009. There’s a note included in the 2009 release of OVENS, which has previously only been available on CD which gives a great deal of context as to why their only album release was a 44 track CD:
“These recordings were originally meant to be released individually over the years, but since we didn’t have the financial means to put out 3 LPs on our own, (or 4 if you include the album from 2005 – it’s still not out yet!) we decided we were better off throwing all the tracks onto one CD for your listening pleasure.”
Oakland punk / metal label TankCrimes has taken the baton from Andee Connors’ tUMULt label, who originally issued the album, and will make OVENS available on 2xLP and on all streaming platforms on Dec. 2 – you can pre-order it HERE and you can stream two songs from the release everywhere now (see above).
Within seconds of first hearing OVENS, they pretty much became my favorite local band, fuck it, favorite band period. Shredding, hook-jammed pop blasts, most less than a minute long, many of those 30 seconds and under, but each one packed with some of the catchiest most timeless sounding pop you’ve ever heard. Weezer meets the Beatles meets the Beach Boys meets old Bee Gees meets Guided By Voices meets the Fucking Champs meets the Fastbacks meets Teenage Fanclub, all distilled to their very pop essence. Verse. Chorus. Guitar solo. OUT. Perfection.
Super rocking and hooky as hell, full on punk here and there – which hinted at OVENS’ mainman Tony Molina’s extracurricular non-OVENS musical activities, metal once in a while too – also hinting at the same (I even played drums on a single with Tony, where we covered Metallica’s “Orion”!), but always total pure pop GENIUS. Then there are the lyrics, celebrating mundanity, elevating the boring day-to-day, elevating boredom and the hopelessness of existence to pop poetry.
There are songs about doing drugs, getting fired, falling down the stairs, getting hurt, how much the OVENS suck and how their songs all sound the same, doing more drugs, and it’s all delivered by a vocalist that sounds uncannily like the skinny John from They Might Be Giants! Acoustic guitars, wild shredding leads, buzzing distorted chug, warm wheezing keyboards, fluttery flutes, incredible harmonies, and HOOKS for goddamn days. These guys accomplish more in 30 seconds than most pop bands can pull off over the course of a full album. And they accomplish more in these 44 songs than most bands manage in their whole careers.
Check out the first handful of songs, linked and flowing into each other pretty much seamlessly, it’s one of the most perfect opening salvos in recorded history, a dizzying burst of grind pop glee, the ultimate one-two-three-four-five power pop punch, five songs in less than five minutes. I listened to that 5 song chunk about a million times before I even got to the rest of the record…
Thankfully, once you do force yourself to move on, the rest of the record is pretty much just as kick ass. Some songs are hushed and dreamy, others are pounding and super rocking, some soar majestically, others are wildly metallic freakouts, Iron Maiden-y guitar harmonies wrap around weird Melvins like falsetto vocals, summery psych-folk strums drift over calliope like keyboards, crunchy guitars unfurl into woozy, jangly jams, while the vocals drawl lazily over the top. So many different sounds and styles but all totally perfectly fused into the OVENS’ weirdly perfect pop world.
The band had been recording for years, full length after full length, and minus a super short run early on, the songs just sat there, unreleased and unheard, until the band had a backlog of 5 full-length albums. A friend of mine was always talking them up, hassling me to reach out, convinced I would love them, and when I finally did manage to get some music from these guys, well shit, I was 100% sold, onboard, obsessed and instantly the band’s #1 fan. Which is saying a lot. Cuz for a band that rarely played, and barely ever released anything, they engendered a rare kind of maniacal fandom.
Live the band are as likely to kick out a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Holiday” as they are some old Melvins jam. I once had them drive all the way to Texas to play a showcase, they of course showed up hours late, and then played NONE of their own songs, and instead treated us to nothing but eighties straight edge hardcore covers. And yet somehow it still totally fucking ruled. I have no idea how this ragtag band of weirdos can pull something like that off, or how they manage to sound heavy and crunchy, but delicate and folky at the same time, often with those two sides colliding in a burst of total freaking mad genius popsmithery. If there was any justice in the world these guys would be HUGE.
OVENS are everything I love in a band, hilarious, deadpan, self deprecating, clever and snarky, the musicianship is totally stellar, the arrangements are unique, sometimes super unexpected but somehow they never take way from the song or the hook, and every curveball they throw manages to sound more catchy than off kilter. How these guys went so long without blowing up, still boggles the mind.
So now’s the time. Well, the time was now when I put out the cd on my label tUMULt, but hell, now’s the time AGAIN. These guys rule. Super psyched this record is finally coming out on vinyl, it’s yet another chance for a bunch of new folks to discover how goddamn great the OVENS are. But also, so all you nerds who missed out on the cd can finally get an earful of what might be one of my all time most listened to records. It’s loud and fun, and funny and catchy and heavy and super rocking, and like I’ve probably said twenty times already, these are some of the catchiest most kick ass songs you will ever hear. EVER! -Andee Connors
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