November 4, 2010

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP
punk-rock, garage-rock, indie-rock

Little I’ve heard this decade has blown me away quite like the opening moments of “Bang”, the first track on Yeah Yeah Yeah’s self-titled debut EP. An amazing, rubberband-riff of punchy electric guitar that’s been compressed to the width of a razor, it just about sawed me in half when it first burst out of my headphones, and when Karen O’s irrepressibly in-charge vocal slides in (how’s “take a swallow, as I spit, baby” for a lyric to introduce yourself to the world?) the whole song elevates to a higher level that’s just impossibly kick-ass. It’s clearly the highlight track here, and easily rates as one of the best songs of the decade, but the rest of the EP very nearly matches it, be it via the melodic punk-rock of “Mystery Girl” and “Our Time”, the rumbling, gravel-roar chorus and wickedly dirty humour of “Art Star” or the gritty propulsion of Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Yeah Yeah Yeahs“Miles Away”. A lightning-quick flash of pure, straight-from-the-garage attitude, it’s an EP so deserving of the spotlight that I’m choosing to honour it – rather than the group’s very good debut full-length Fever to Tell – with a place on this list. With its can’t-miss combination of jagged guitar lines and dynamic vocals, not to mention the added benefit of featuring arguably the most charismatic frontwoman in rock music today, Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a rough, sexy, rock-the-hell-out piece of work. The group have maintained a solid output in the meantime, yet in less than fifteen minutes this EP manages to eclipse all of it.



October 29, 2010

The Hunches – Yes. No. Shut It.
punk, garage-rock, noise-rock

If Yes. No. Shut It were a mission statement, it’d be a beer-soaked, ash-stained napkin with “kick titanic amounts of ass” scrawled onto it in blood. Blending a grab-bag of punk, garage and hard-rock influences, primarily The Stooges, Motörhead, Rocket from the Tombs and a touch of The Velvet Underground, The Hunches deliver a non-stop hurricane of maniacal, swaggering awesomeness that rocks harder than just about anything. This is the kind of amphetamine-fueled thrash that makes songs like “Murdering Train Track Blues” (what a title!), which opens the album with a hoarse shout and a veritable avalanche of speed-riffage, sound like the band are being dragged along a gravel road behind their instruments, which are too busy playing themselves about two or three clicks faster than necessary to notice the carnage being left in their wake. The guitar on “10,000 Miles” cuts like a rusty buzzsaw and “Static Disaster” is the sort of wild, unhinged punk song that would make Iggy proud. And that’s just The Hunches - Yes. No. Shut It.in the first three tracks! The sludgy “Explosion” and “Got Some Hate” rate very highly as well, and I dig the slowed-down, Loud Reed style vocals on “Same New Thing” and “Lisa Told Me”. Honestly, though, I don’t think the band take their foot off the pedal long enough to allow anything close to a lull to emerge. At its core, Yes. No. Shut It is bar-fight music – the audio equivalent to having a chair broken over your head. Embrace the chair.



October 26, 2010

The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine
punk, grunge, alternative-rock

These guys would have to be one of the most righteously pissed off groups making music today. The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a bombastic, visceral attack on anything and everything that apparently rubs The Thermals the wrong way, delivered via a fantastic blend of poppy punk-rock and old-school grunge tweaks. There’s creationism and Christianity in “Here’s Your Future”, bloodshed in the name of any “greater good” in “I Might Need You to Kill” and a fantastic take on war-for-oil with “Power Doesn’t Run on Nothing”, which stands out as a furiously brilliant protest song, featuring incisive lines like “God is with us and our God’s the richest” and a gargantuan 4-chord close-out. Crucially, though, this isn’t a joyless album – the songs are upbeat and catchy as hell (just try to keep still while “A Pillar of Salt” is doing its The Thermals - The Body, the Blood, the Machinepunk-pop thing), the guitar-lines are big and bright and Hutch Harris’ lyrics are imbued with wonderful, sardonic wit (favourite snippet: God telling Noah “Know I’m your father, remember that no one can breathe underwater” before finally dropping the bombshell “…here’s your future: it’s gonna rain“). Throughout the album, the blistering pace and indignant fury rarely let up – the only breather comes with the mellow centrepiece “Test Pattern” – as The Thermals lay ruin to every single target that falls into their crosshairs.



October 16, 2010

Coachwhips Bangers vs. Fuckers
punk, noise-rock, garage-rock

Meet the loudest band in existence. Before he fronted Thee Oh Sees and started trading in psychedelic rock, John Dwyer led three piece garage-punk outfit Coachwhips through three albums of blistering, noisy, tear-the-walls-down rock ‘n’ roll. Bangers vs Fuckers, Coachwhips - Bangers vs. Fuckerstheir final release, is so loud and rocks so impossibly hard that you actually need to exercise a little caution when putting it on – the album was mastered at such a ridiculously high volume, that if you play it through headphones on your “default” volume setting you run the risk of pulverising your skull. While Thee Oh Sees are a lot more floaty in their retro-recreation, Coachwhips immediately get to the point, and then proceed to jackhammer it directly into your pleasure centres with nasty glee. By all accounts, Dwyer seems like a bit of an a-hole on this album, slurring his way through his near-incomprehensible filtered vocals while virtually swallowing the microphone, and playing his guitar with the furious pace and sloppy distortion you’d expect from someone on the tail end of a 48-hour cocaine binge, but there’s a roguish charisma to his madness that easily stops you from ever really being bothered. “You Gonna Get It” and “I Knew Her, She Knew Me” rate as my personal favourites, but the album races by so quickly (the whole thing is over in just over twenty minutes!) that it honestly feels like a bit of a blur. The first time I listened to this, I penned a very brief review which simply read “Holy shit. I think my head just exploded.” That should tell you everything you need to know.