Five songs into The Bots’ release show for the duo’s new EP, Sincerely Sorry, released earlier this week on FADER Label, vocalist/guitarist Mikaiah Lei stopped to actually make an earnest apology. “I just realized my guitar was pretty badly untuned,” the 20-year-old said as he fiddled with his axe, while his brother, the be-afroed 16-year-old Anaiah Lei, waited patiently at his drum kit.
As far as the audience members—scattered about the floor at New York’s Studio at Webster Hall—were concerned, the guitar’s settings only added to The Bots’ brand of ramshackle rock: it’s punk, it’s heavy, and it’ll melt your face—in tune or not.
Like power rock duos before them the Black Keys and the White Stripes, the Lei brothers’ music appears far bigger than the sum of its parts. As a two-person team, they astonished with what they can accomplish with merely drums and a guitar—plus boundless energy. The Stripes’ influence is felt most in The Bots’ sound, particularly on songs from the new EP such as “War,” propelled by Anaiah’s menacing drum beat and shred apart by Mikaiah’s wailing guitar, and the thick, crunchy guitar lines backing single “5.17.”
Elsewhere, Bad Brains’ scattered punk rock, subtle Police-like vibes, and bouncy surf rock diversified the set, as did the trippy, softer groove of songs like “Dinosaurs,” which Mikaiah noted is, “about being young and having an imagination and what not.”
But the brothers sound best on songs like “I Like Your Style,” as they get in your face and thrash about the stage, all while still keeping a catchy tune in check. And, sure, there was extra feedback, the vocals were largely lost, and there were a few stop-and-go moments. The Bots were well-aware of the few flaws, which just served to add to the young group’s charm.
Stream: The Bots, “5.17″