The Nervous System, an all-star group headed up by David "Vid" Libert and former SuperEights John Nichols and Nathan Meltz, have no trouble tapping the adolescent angst and primitive energy of 1960s garage-rock and psychedelia on Manic Compression. In many ways it's a nostalgic album, with everything from the desperate, Coca Cola- and acne-informed freakout "Nervous Tic" ("I'll bounce back like I always do/A nervous tic in canvas shoes") to the Seeds-quality embrace of individualism "Don't Matter Much," overflowing with gloriously cheap-sounding vocal effects, artfully tinny guitars and sizzling snare drum. Most of them wouldn't be out of place on Lenny Kaye's classic Nuggets compilation of one-hit wonders and regional faves.
Oddly enough, one of the thinnest-sounding cuts, the po' boy complaint "Gotta Lotta," hits particularly hard. It's a simple, unambiguous attack on the I-got-mine ethos of contemporary America ("You got your hands in my pocket/I got my hands in the air") that any schoolboy or -girl could understand. The other standout here is "Puerto Escondido," a mostly instrumental South-of-the-border rocker that gets its heat from some mournful mariachi trumpet, perfectly placed tambourine jangles and a clipped chorus that uses "Hey-hey, hey-hey" to convey all the power and glory of a youthful road trip to a very '60s paradise of sun and beer and mescaline.