Myths spread like contagion. On a cramped roadtrip to the Okanagan, thoughts of an enlarged lake monster hop from head to head with the ease of a common cold. Until, finally, everyone is consumed by a single image: the Ogopogo.
This type of infectious energy vibrates throughout the aptly named Ogopogo Punk, The Evaporators’ follow-up to 2012’s Busy Doing Nothing. Helmed by Nardwuar and John Collins, and accompanied by Nick Thomas, Stephen Hamm and Shawn Mrazek, The Evaporators propel themselves forward with an irreverent glee. Unified by a disgust of the self-serious, each song on Ogopogo Punk is refined and minimal. Indulgence is wholly absent. There are no ballads about lost love. Songs about pain have no place. Instead, focus is on commonality. Like the Ogopogo, The Evaporators appeal to all.
This ability to attract is born out of an awareness of genre. With tracks like the organ driven “Eat to Win” and the breakneck “I Can’t Be Shaved,” The Evaporators dig into their roots. After all, garage rock is about vigor. As long as it’s fast and filled with vinegar, lyrical content is meaningless. For instance, on “Double Decker Bus,” the opening track of the Count Five’s 1966 album Psychotic Reactions, the howling lead vocals of Kenn Ellner is pure poetry. This accomplishment seems impossible. Especially considering it is a song about a bus. But, somehow, amongst the swirling fuzz guitar, Ellner encapsulates an uncontaminated energy. And, like their Count Five predecessors, The Evaporators manage to generate genuine feeling when Nardwuar yelps, “Take away that blade, I can’t be shaved.”
By energizing the mundane, Ogopogo Punk drags the listener into a world of infectious fun. Songs about shaving and smoked meats jangle about until smiling is inevitable. But while most acts would impale themselves upon such unadulterated silliness, The Evaporators maintain by merit of taut songwriting. “Chuckanut,” for instance, pits Nardwuar’s yowling recount of a road trip against a beautiful mish-mash of saxophone and beach oriented guitar. Less than two minutes long, it is lean but not necessarily rushed. Midway through, for example, a guitar solo plods along comfortably. But this does not derail the song. Quickly, the chorus resumes.
The Evaporators penetrate your ears. They set up shop. And as you walk down the street whistling their tune, it lodges in the head of a passerby.