5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place. Punk/Garage Edition.
With a name like Lesser Pissers it comes as no surprise that this Vancouver outfit harbours no pretensions. They just revive old school rock with childlike enthusiasm. It’s quick and dirty. Not punk music per se, but they capture the original punk attitude that basic rock should be played raw and unpolished. So there’s goofy doo-wop in the humourous “Homophobic”, surf-garage in “Todd is Dead”, and even muddy Rolling Stone riffs in “I Hate Vegetarians”.
The fact that they bookend the album with military bugling relays the message that this isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Have fun. It’s only rock and roll.
There’s variations on the theme but The Beverleys’ standard M.O. is to take a basic drum beat and drive straight at you in a twin guitar assault. It works because it’s uncompromising. But there is also artistry. Susan Burke and Joanna Lund’s guitars are cleverly layered, and although they usually buzz with menace they also have the odd dramatic flourish.
The tone of the vocals tends to vary with the nature of the music. Amid the noisy punk of “Stamp Glue” Burke screeches in distortion, and on the near-metal “Hush” her voice has a distinct ‘f&ck you’ snarl to it. Elsewhere she sings more melodically, especially on the grunge pop numbers like “Anyway”.
The Beverleys may blow your hair back with a sonic blast, but they’ll impress you with their craftsmanship while doing so.
Apparently recorded in ‘a dirty jam hall in Waterloo’, ‘The Ghost of Jean Daddy’ resonates as if the band is playing to the great void that is modern humanity. Their message is not so much in their words (no one would listen anyway) but in their ‘don’t give a sh%t’ attitude. Not only do they sound somewhat like The Clash, but lead singer Jacob Anstey also has that Joe Strummer ‘hey, listen to me’ quality in his vocal delivery.
Except for “Press Vinyl at My Funeral” with its post-punk poetry and rhythmic bass, the songs fly at you in short cataclysmic spurts. After all, it doesn’t take very long to say ‘You’re all f$cked’.
The name Soft Haze is not quite a misnomer but it could be misleading. For one thing, these guys aren’t gentle or quiet – they are, in fact, noisy and electric. The ‘soft haze’ thing has more to do with the gauzy psych swirl that they spin you into. Also, the music isn’t necessarily slow tempo (although they do have some simmering pot-boilers) as evidenced on the proto-punk “Time” and the high energy garage popper “Love Song #5”.
The band can get you hopping on the dance floor or retreating into your inner head space, but they really go to town when they crank out the high-voltage dream pop with “Corners” and “Too Human”. The latter especially is quite simply an instant classic.
TV Freaks have an unbridled energy that manifest itself in an all-out war on our senses. It can take the form of pure punk, as on “Fly High”, but the Hamilton lads real aren’t too picky. Hence you get rockabilly/proto-punk with “Ebb and Flow”, glam-tinged hard rock on “Act of Contrition”, and melodic noise pop on “20/1”. Hell, they even throw in a classic rock intro to “Love Fade”.
Singer Dave O’Connor belts it out in the fast numbers (the overwhelming majority) but protests when the pace is slowed, giving a punkish growl in the grinding “Forget You” and an almost black metal screech in the sludgy “Regular Guy”.
A good luck charm if you are a fan of loud music of any genre.