Local music fans who keep their ear to ground were probably aware of Guitar Andrei Andrei Andrei, the latest project from former Secret Guest guitarist Andrei Mihailovic. Those same fans were probably both confused and ecstatic on April 20, when Guitar Andrei Andrei Andrei changed their name to Guitar Test and immediately released a mammoth 18-track debut LP, Friends for Life.
Spur-of-the-moment shenanigans like this fit Guitar Test’s hyperactive, psychedelic, six string-driven tunes to a tee. Songs like “Scared Sacred,” “Jumping Ship,” and “Wet Glands” rely on speedy surf riffs and calm vocal melodies. Mihailovic, a light-hearted professional, plays with so much joy and confidence, he makes it sound easy.
“On this record, I had tons of memos, tons of musical ideas that hadn’t been formed into songs, yet,” he says. “I had a lot of loose material — and I did write a lot of it in the moment, as well.”
The album was written and finished between March and September in 2018, soon after he found himself sick of touring in other acts. “I wanted to focus more on writing,” he says. “Pretty much my goal was to finish [the record] before I turned 30 in 2018.”
For almost an hour straight, Friends for Life kicks into overdrive and simply refuses to slow down. Even quieter and restrained tunes like “Cicero” feel like they’re about to break out into frantic bursts — and they usually do. This particular song is followed by noise breaks and punk riffs on “Mantra Purge.” The songwriter says he was equally influenced by his long-time favorites Guided By Voices and also original video game music. The band pays tribute to that last inspiration with a cover of a Ghouls ‘n Ghosts track to end the album.
The band’s sound draws from a wide variety of non-music influences, as well. Mihailovic draws comparisons between the music and a swath of other artistic varieties. “There’s this prevailing aesthetic [that] you’re in this dangerous adventure, you’re on this quest, but your protagonist — whether it’s Finn [from Adventure Time], Odysseus, or Super Mario — is irreverent and funny in the face of all of that.”
Mihailovic has been something of a local punk guitar hero for a few years, thanks to his time in Secret Guest, a brief stint in Dumb Doctors, and his signature move: playing a guitar with another guitar. It’s just as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds. While, Mihailovic notes that visual stunt didn’t carry over to Friends for Life, the album still sounds like an energetic free-for-all.
Guitar Test will donate all proceeds from Friends for Life to MUSC’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Love Best of Charleston? Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.
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