Flaggs Flaggs EP (Self-released)
San Diego—just like Seattle, Austin, Memphis and Brooklyn—has never experienced a shortage of garage rock. In essence, garage-rock bands are the backbone of any healthy music scene, because it takes a few youngsters wailing away on power chords in dingy dive bars before a sound can grow into something bigger and bolder.
That said, there are plenty of musicians who seem perfectly content to keep wailing away on power chords, but the bands that take that basic garagerock framework and build something bigger on top of it are those that graduate from dingy dive bars and make a bigger name for themselves.
Flaggs—a trio featuring ex-New Kinetics bassist Leslie Schulze, guitarist Lindsay Matheson (ex-The Nervous Wreckords) and drummer M. Franco— haven't been together long, but the four songs on their debut EP already indicate a charisma and vibrancy that extend well beyond the tired tropes of garage rock.
As with any fuzz-loving band, the key element in Flaggs' music is fun. Each of the four songs here is crafted to get hips swinging and toes tapping. An immediate reference point for the group's sweetly scuzzy pop sound is another recent San Diego export: Dum Dum Girls. Yet Flaggs never quite dive as deep into dream pop or goth rock as Dee Dee Penny & Co. have done lately. Rather, the trio sticks to a simple but wonderfully executed blend of hooks and melodies reminiscent, at various times, of The Kinks, T. Rex and Phil Spector's girl-group productions.
Lyrically, Matheson sticks to familiar topics, namely romantic complications with the opposite sex. But that's perfectly fine; their tunes are strong enough melodically, and key to that success is simplicity. On the foot-stomping glam-rock of "I'm Trying," the sweetly harmonized pop sound of "Got You Down" and the punk swagger of "So Over You," Flaggs keep it concise and direct.
Flaggs' debut EP buzzes by quickly, but its hooks and melodies will certainly warrant a second spin— or a visit to The Casbah on Saturday, July 13, when Flaggs will play their debut live show.