A friend of mine says Terry Malts sound like the perfect combination of the Ramones and Jesus and Mary Chain: simple, irresistibly catchy rock ’n’ roll songs full of guitar feedback. Most of the bands in my record collection 25 years ago were trying to sound like this, but few of them landed nearly as close to the mark. Still, any retro quality is purely accidental, according to the band. “The only thing we set out to do as far as sound goes was to make a lot of noise while maintaining a pop sensibility,” says Phil Benson, Terry Malts’ bassist/singer, in an e-mail. “Our collections are completely eclectic, covering everything from A Certain Ratio to ZZ Top. We love us some ZZ.”
That’s not to say Terry Malts songs are all about legs, candy, or sniffin’ glue. One of the delights of the band’s debut full-length Killing Time, released earlier this year, is the way you find yourself singing along with a tune before realizing it’s not as bubbly as you might have thought. “Not a Christian” is an atheist anthem that, amazingly, makes the words “I take responsibility” sound like rock ’n’ roll. In the anti-consumerist screed “Mall Dreams,” Benson sings, “A zombie’s still a zombie in J. Crew.”
Terry Malts isn’t necessarily opposed to licensing their songs to commercials, however. Benson says the band got close to doing it once for a commercial in which they would have appeared playing onstage, but the project fell through. Still, he says, “J. Crew can have ‘Mall Dreams’ when they wrestle it from my cold, dead hands.”
Fresh & Onlys and Tropical Popsicle also perform.
TERRY MALTS: Soda Bar, Thursday, September 6, 8:00 p.m. 619-255-7224. $10.