The Linus Pauling Quartet, Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

The Linus Pauling Quartet, <em>Find What You Love and Let It Kill You</em>

And now, for something completely different. Well, mostly. You have to hand it to the Linus Pauling Quartet guys for being one of the most out-and-out contrary bands going; expect one thing from them, and they’re likely to do the opposite.

Last year’s Bag of Hammers was an over-the-top, Dungeons & Dragons-/Conan of Cimmeria-fueled stoner-metal blast, as heavy as its name and jam-packed full of fuzzed-out, sludgy, psych-blues fury, so naturally, yours truly expected that the new release from the band, the three-song EP Find What You Love and Let It Kill You (the title of which apparently comes from something Kinky Friedman told guitarist/vocalist Ramon Medina during an interview; nice), would follow in its footsteps.

Nope. On the contrary, for this EP — which the band’s calling their “Summer” EP, as opposed to a “Winter” EP they’ll be releasing in (derrr) the winter — the Quartet veers off in a totally different direction, ditching the heavy-ass guitars for the most part and turning down (again, for the most part) to release a trio of songs that show that, as I opined back when the band released their odds-and-ends collection Horns of Ammon in 2010, this band really can do anything.

And no, I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. If after this the LP4 started releasing dubstep tracks on Soundcloud, it would only seem like an extension of the horizon-broadening they’re doing here.

They start things off with “The Road,” a remarkably gentle, friendly tune that’s like a less-menacing “Tomorrow Never Knows”; it’s a ’60s-tinged psych-pop track with crystalline keys, meandering, fuzzy-edged guitar lines, and Medina’s “flat”-sounding vocals (the latter of which make me think of ’90s drone-pop band Arcwelder, somehow). The combination of all those things makes for a sweet, warm, calm benediction of a song, the fact of which is hammered home when Medina declares, “May the road rise with you.” It’s uplifting and flat-out beautiful.

In terms of other LP4 tracks, I’m reminded of the band’s earnest ode to drinking and Brazos Bend, “Nowhere,” from the aforementioned Horns of Ammon. Come to think of it, the songs on FWYLALIKY would all fit easily with that mixed-bag of the band’s work, which includes some of my favorite LP4 songs of all time (“Porno in the Sink”!) and some of the quieter, less-heavy tunes they’ve come up with over the years.

Then there’s “USA,” which sees the band revving up into straight-ahead garage-rock with buzzsaw rhythm guitars, bluesy leads, and gang vocals. It comes off more like fellow Houstonians the Born Liars than the Quartet’s trademark stone-sludge-rock sound, but they pull it off like they’ve done it all their freaking lives. Blink, though, and you’ll miss it — the band stomps furiously through the song in a minute-and-a-half, leaving your head spinning.

Finally, there’s the real kicker of the bunch, the true oddball of the group, with “La Jetée,” a fragile, low-key duet between Ramon Medina and Hearts of Animals’ Mlee Marie, with delicately-plucked guitars over a bed of hazy feedback. It’s dreampop more than anything else, coming off like a cross between Mazzy Star (especially given Mlee’s Hope Sandoval-esque vocals) and Red House Painters, all slow-motion guitars, shoegazery noise, and low-key-yet-pretty melodies.

And believe it or not, it’s utterly gorgeous. It’s lush and layered but never overwhelming, instead feeling quietly confident and sincere beyond words; the guitar line makes me think of Underworld’s “Eight Ball,” for crying out loud, and that’s a comparison I never thought I’d be making with the Linus Pauling crew. Oh, and whenever “La Jetée” slowly crumbles to a close, my finger moves inexorably towards the “Replay” button. Wow. I don’t know what to say beyond that.

[The Linus Pauling Quartet is playing their EP release show 7/20/13 at Vinal Edge.]
(Homeskool Rekordz -- 1001 Texas Ave., Ste. 1400, Houston, TX. 77002; http://homeskoolrekordz.com/; The Linus Pauling Quartet -- http://www.worshipguitars.org/LP4/; The Linus Pauling Quartet (Facebook) -- https://www.facebook.com/LinusPaulingQuartet; The Linus Pauling Quartet (Myspace) -- https://myspace.com/linuspaulingquartet)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, July 18th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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4 Responses to “The Linus Pauling Quartet, Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

  1. John C on July 18th, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Good stuff, sir.

  2. EP Release Show Tomorrow, Status of Vinyl, and Local Press | The Linus Pauling Quartet on July 19th, 2013 at 9:46 am

    […] EP“, and not long after that, Space City Rock’s Jeremy Hart penned his review, “The Linus Pauling Quartet, Find What You Love and Let It Kill You.” So thanks to all those folks for the kind words.  […]

  3. Jeremy Hart on July 19th, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Thanks! :)

  4. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Linus Pauling Quartet (Rev’d!) + 30footFALL + Bickley + Night Moves + David Dove & Jawaad Taylor + CounterCrawl + More on July 20th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    […] only one track out of three), and it all works astoundingly well. Check out the full review over here, then head on up to the Heights & check ‘em out […]

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