Sometimes all you need is a do over. Case in point, this self-titled release from Daytes — the artists formerly known as Sarah & Octopus, whose previous self-titled release earned a mixed review from Gilbert Garcia in January. Daytes catches locals Mark Anthony Esquival (guitar), Ian McIntosh (bass), and Mason Macias (drums) double-dipping heavily from S&O: Seven of the tracks are straight-up re-recordings, but there’s a purpose here beyond tricking you into paying for the same set of songs twice: The songs on Daytes render their S&O counterparts obsolete.
Take, for example, “The Storm,” “The Flood,” and “The Rescue” — an interlocking song cycle that seems to recreate the feeling of drowning under a wall of musical notes. The new versions benefit not only from crisper production, but also the marked confidence that comes with several months of playtime. That swagger proves indispensable to the sort of instrumental dick-swinging Daytes are prone to, transforming show-offy post-rock riffs into technically intimidating shred fests. Their new metal bent is evident from opener “En la Cueva” on — Esquivel’s howl is now stronger than an afterthought, and Macias’s cleaner-sounding drum fills help incorporate the once-jarring constant rhythm change-ups into a still-striking but more organic sound. Under their new name, Daytes continue their “all solos, all the time, and all at the same time” songwriting style, but the greater depth and tighter playing make better sense of the chaos, transforming “Film School” into the catchy kitchen-sink bludgeoning it was meant to be, and “Wolves Dance Off Key” into a full-on, scream-along thrasher. Best of all, three of San Antonio’s most skilled rockers now have an album that can take a rightful spot among the year’s best. Buy it again.
— Jeremy Martin