Although this year’s Firecracker 500 Fest is now in the rear-view mirror, there are still plenty of amazing garage and psych rock acts passing through Iowa City this summer. Holy Wave from Austin, Texas, for instance, will be playing this Thursday at Trumpet Blossom with local rock n’ roll fixtures Rusty Buckets and Maiden Mars. The show costs $5 and starts at 9:15 p.m.
Holy Wave have carved out a compelling niche in the psych-rock world. Their commitment towards hazy, reverb-coated production is unparalleled and it leads them to use fidelity as a song-writing tool, rather than a limitation. Take their latest album, the impeccably-named Relax. For the most part, it’s full of heavy-lidded, slightly-stoned psych songs, but when bright, writhing guitars appear out of nowhere on their excellent single “Star Stamp,” it’s both exciting and revelatory.
On the other end of the spectrum, Holy Wave is also able to embrace the limits of lo-fidelity. Album stand-out, “Sol Love,” breaks down in just two and a half minutes, taking trite lyrics and surf guitars and warbling them into a wonderful jangle of white noise.
They’ve also got a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek approach to honoring their influences, with song titles like “Night Tripper” and “Surfin’ MTA,” paying homage to the Beatles and the Beach Boys respectively. The Beach Boys are definitely the key reference point for Holy Wave — but with their dark and hazy turns, Holy Wave seems more interested in the storm clouds than the sunshine.