Drug-Free Youth – “The Avocado Index” (Nowhere Street Music 2012, 030)

Steeped in the psychedelic, garage rock of the 60’s, Greece’s Drug-Free Youth turn out a lo-fi sonic throwback to a bygone era. Not actually a band, but one man known simply as George, he writes all the tracks and plays all the instruments on the album. Keyboards seem to be his forte though, as the guitar, bass and percussion all take second billing to the acid drenched Farfisa organ and vintage analog synths that dominate most of the tracks.

The opening cut, Doppelgänger Love, kicks things off in fine 13th Floor Elevators mode (although George’s vocals are considerably mellower and more melodic than Roky Erickson’s). But from that point on, all bets are off. Garage rock ends up being more of a springboard to Drug-Free Youth’s sound as the artist throws in influences ranging from 80’s underground synthpop (Tomorrow, Faces From the Past) to experimental electronic music (Thieves of Forgotten Dreams, Surveillance Alphabet). He even delves into a bit of spacerock on the all too brief Bonus Beats and the excellent garage rock meets outer space psychedelia of ergotaxio. Many of the tracks (including the above mentioned experimental electronic pieces) are instrumental, as George takes us to meet A Cat (surely one with a Cheshire grin), grooves with the trippy organ pop of Pulsating Yellow Heart and takes us on a little adventure to a drugged out circus fairground on Sans Marker. Elsewhere he returns to his more pure garage rock style with tracks like The Mysteries of Life: Ms. Abigeil Doe and the really quite excellent Time, and takes a more euro psychedelic approach with the very cool Veronique.

The songs are short (most under 3-minutes). With 19 tracks clocking in at just under 40-minutes, it’s a tight effort, with no time wasted. I got the feeling, however, that George could have developed some of the tracks a little bit more, such as the 53 second Bonus Beats, which was very cool but ended almost before it really got started, and the 41 second, early Floydian sounding Minature Ninjas, which could have led into a longer, moody psychedelic space trip. The overall sound is lo-fi, DIY style (George apparently recorded it in his living room), but that totally works for the kind of music he’s doing, although occasionally the sound does get a bit too thin and tinny.

The Avocado Index is a pretty good album, with a few gems like Dopplegänger Love, ergotaxio, Veronique and Time standing out, but doesn’t quite reach the heights it could due to a few tracks that aren’t developed very well and some occasionally dodgy recording. Overall, though, if you’re a fan of 60’s psychedelic music, you will surely find plenty to enjoy on this album.

For more info, visit: http://www.myspace.com/nowherestreetmusic and http://drugfreeyouth.bandcamp.com/album/the-avocado-index-2

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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