By Margaret Welsh
Pittsburgh Current Music Editor
Years ago, I interviewed Jason Orr for a feature about T-Tops, for whom Orr played bass. “It’s music from people from isolated worlds,” he said of that band. “Rock music as an area of musical artistic expression is just, you know, disgusting people [teasing] their imaginations to the public a little bit.”
That sentiment undoubtedly holds true for Holy Rivals, which released Mind Blinder on August 16. Fans of T-Tops, or Wormrigg (another of Orr’s projects) will find familiar territory here. But where T-Tops –under the leadership of Patrick Waters — felt more tightly-wound, nearly bursting with rock ‘n’ roll rage, and Wormrigg verged on industrial, Holy Rivals wilds-out, shifting from rambly shape to rambly shape and just barely holding together.
Composed of the Orr brothers, Jason and Aaron, and Rob Storm, the real joy of this band is its semi free-form, visceral instrumentation, and the catharsis that lies in the push and pull between established structure (the “blinded mind,” you might say) and freedom.
There are definitely songs here, and an overarching pop sensibility: the anthemic “No Future” and the surfy punk tune “Raana is My Friend” are practically sing-alongs. The Butthole Surfers are an obvious comparison, and Holy Rivals share that band’s funny, druggy, far-out, slightly threatening tunefulness.
“If you love life, I just don’t see where your place is in rock music,” Jason told me long ago. That certainly checks out here: anger, boredom and frustration permeate Mind Blinder. But sometimes you can catch the band enjoying itself, as they escape into the fun of making noise for the sake of making noise. There’s plenty on this earth to hate, but Mind Blinder leaves the listener with a welcome sense of buoyancy.