MANHATTAN, NY—When lead vocalist and guitarist Andrew Katz, born in Detroit and raised on theatre, met drummer Charles Garmendia, born in the Dominican Republic, in a Brooklyn bar, they found they had a common passion for aggressive music. They jammed with guitarist/keyboard player Matt Menold and bassist Eduardo DuQuesne and formed Clear Plastic Masks in 2011. The band began performing on the local music club circuit and then expanded its touring through the Midwestern and Southern states, eventually stopping for recording sessions in Nashville, Tennessee, in December of 2011 and April of 2012. The four musicians found a supportive music scene there, and decided to relocate in late 2012. Clear Plastic Masks’ CPM EP was released in January 2014.
At the Mercury Lounge on May 14, Clear Plastic Masks proved to be a curious band in that the music escaped classification and defined genres. Just when it seemed like the group was falling into a niche, the next song would take the band in another direction. Give the band a label, and within minutes the musicians will tear up and disintegrate the category. Any attempt to describe the music is going to be insufficient and incomplete. So, here is my futile attempt to color in what they sounded like, and it will be inaccurate.
As a vocalist, Katz seemed to find his soul in both singer-songwriter story-songs and Stax-style rhythm and blues, until he began to shout, at which point he sounded like an early punk rocker. On several songs, Menold played lead riffs on a keyboard that owed a debt to classic rock, but then was overpowered by the building garage rock of the rest of the band. On other songs, Menold moved to the guitar and played crisp, fluid licks, while the rest of the group delivered a scrappy grunge.
Overall, the thread that held the adventurous performance together was a raucous and rough, experimental and explosive rock that was seeking its ground zero in what might have been an unintentional blues. Disregard everything I wrote, as it is all wrong. Listen to Clear Plastic Masks’ innovative and cutting edge music and whip up your own description; it will be as inadequate as mine.
For more information on Clear Plastic Masks, go to clearplasticmasks.com.