You may know Max Henry Gottesman from their old band GOTTEM. That group's carefree, haphazard brand of power pop has been circulating around the DIY scene for a number of years. Since GOTTEM's breakup, the members have moved to Richmond, started a new band called Neat Sweep and released one of the catchiest underground records of 2018.
"Space Is For Dogs" is a 26-minute barrage of catchy, loud, and gritty punk-infused rock and roll. From the pick slides to the drum rolls, Neat Sweep will have you bobbing your head and pounding your steering wheel. Drummer Cody Fields plays fast and tight, maintaining the grooves while adding perfectly placed fills. Bassist Cory Chubb plays melodic, busy bass-lines, which adds layers to the straightforward, in-your-face songwriting. Kyler O’Brien plays a baritone guitar, adding a little depth to the riffs and chords. Gottesman’s strained yells and minimalist leads are the heart and soul of the record. Each of these players knows their role, and together they make something big, powerful and distorted.
The name of the game for Neat Sweep is simplicity. They’ve taken the Heartbreakers' motto, “don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” to heart. Beneath the fluid bass-lines and flashy guitar work, these 13 songs are bare-bones power pop anthems. Even the song titles offer no frills, such as “Anthem 1” or “Anthem 2.” Five of the 13 tracks are under the two-minute mark. If brevity is the mark of genius, Gottesman & Co. are something like the brainiacs of punk.
But, don’t let the simplicity fool you. Book-ended by the songs “Party 4Eva” and “Party All The Time,” "Space Is For Dogs" is almost a case study in escapism. Gottesman’s lyrics are accounts of loneliness and fatigue. In “Favorite Songs,” they sing, “Well I’ve been walking round this town for far too long / Singing all your favorite songs / I’ve been singing, what went wrong?” The chorus of “No Friends Anymore” is just the repeated lament, “I don’t have any friends anymore.” The juxtaposition of Gottesman’s bittersweet lyrics and the upbeat songwriting will keep you coming back to this record all summer long.
Neat Sweep isn’t putting on any airs or pretending to be something they’re not. They set out to make rock and roll, and by god they’ve done it. "Space Is For Dogs" is a breath of fresh air for DIY music. In 2018, it’s heartwarming to hear a band that isn’t particularly introspective or soul-searching -- it’s just good fun.
If you’re looking for a catchy, summer-y record, look no further than "Space Is For Dogs." And be sure to follow Neat Sweep as they blast off into the stratosphere!