We were recently gratified to be approached by Ed Shorrock who, as he will explain in his own words below, has recently got his hands on a copy of the new Roadkill Records compilation. He sent us his thoughts on it, track by track, as an outsider to the entire genre and scene of garage rock. We’ve decided it needs to be published – Maisey.
“Would you like me to write a review?”, I said. “I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to!” said Josh.
This was the brief exchange I had with the boss of Roadkill Records, Josh Cooper, having listened to two tracks of a compilation put together by him and put out by his label. However, it is probably worth scrolling back a few months to give a little context to how this came about. Context is everything in terms of this review so indulge me a little……
I am a particular brand of music lover – a cowboy-hat wearing goth – and I’ve loved dark music for 30-plus years. Always have done, always will do. I came across Terminal Gods, for which Josh plays guitar as you may well know, quite by accident earlier this year when trawling through Bandcamp trying to find my next goth band (we’re not a goth band – Maisey). I instantly fell in love with them but that’s another story. When I saw Josh wrote for Louder Than War I offered to write a review of my upcoming trip to Germany to see a raft of gothic rock bands to see if he would be interested in getting it published. He said “Not really my thing….”. I was intrigued. What was Josh’s thing? What is garage, psych and surf rock?
Over the following months I saw various tweets and Facebook posts about bands he was clearly interested in as were his fellow band members. Sly Persuaders, Dedwardians to name just a couple. Never heard of them, don’t know them and never listened to them. Then I saw Roadkill were having an event on recently and that they had made up a Tshirt which I liked. I ordered one and it is pretty cool. I told Josh it had arrived and he sent me a link to his compilation as he had offered to give me a taste of what he was about.
What I can tell you upfront is that not knowing anything about a music scene is quite liberating. You have no preconceptions, no fixed ideas and come at it with fresh eyes using only your own musical knowledge and experience. I listen quite widely to various kinds of music, but there is always room for more. Here goes……
The compilation starts off with a throaty bass line from The Sly Persuaders – The Fool. It keeps up that funky rhythm throughout the track with the guitars chiming in, in a messy, but delightful way, with plenty of reverb. There are some retro whammy bar moments too which give it a nostalgic feel in places but it is definitely a contemporary track.
Next up, Saint Agnes – Where The Lightening Strikes. My musical vocabulary probably doesn’t do this band justice. Does gritty rock ‘n’ roll do it? I have seen the word ‘psychedelic’ used in the same breath as their name. Not really sure what that means but the harmonica, keyboard and guitars together with the devil-may-care vocals does it for me. Nice one.
A slower number by Dirty White Fever – Not Another Love Song. A blues influenced track to my ears with nice guitar work. Laid back to start with and with a nice fuzzy guitar solo ending. A three minute classic.
X Ray Cat-Trio –Wolfcop. Crazy band name, crazy opening. Catchy guitar riff repeating periodically throughout this two minute instrumental is a nice balancing tune to what we have heard so far.
Dead Coast –Hills Made of Sand. Did someone say Hank Marvin? The guitar certainly sounds like it but so much darker, a lot darker. Sounds upbeat in places but in a kind of disturbing way. I like that.
Venice Trip – Oh Katy. Elements of JJ Cale in here which is always going to recommend it to me. Lovely vocals and melody. This is one to listen to on a Sunday morning. Uber cool.
Desert Mountain Tribe – 5th Song. OK, so I am probably going to get it in the neck for saying this opening sounds very similar to a certain Pink Floyd track. I don’t care. I like Floyd and I absolutely love this track which you can probably tell by the length of this paragraph. The beginning melts into lovely swaying guitars. I think this is what I referred to as ‘shoe gazing’ to Josh. Again, probably the wrong term but I don’t care. All I do know is that I close my eyes when listening to this and get lost in the broad sweeping vocals and wall of guitar which is set up in the background. A thing of beauty.
The Parrots – I Did Something Wrong. As far as contrasts go you can’t get them more stark than the previous track. A super retro feel about this one. Nice background harmony vocals. A kind of twist on Teenage Kicks but slower and not the same……in fact not really like it at all but you know when you hear other songs in others? This is one. I am a great fan of hearing other songs in others – there’s a reason for that. It’s called influences. Nothing to be ashamed about. Are we allowed to mention The Merry Thoughts and the Sisters here? (No – Maisey) Thought not……….moving swiftly on……
Three MVPS – Funeral (Live). Jangly guitar opening with feedback guitar. A decidedly punk feel about this. I am not going to use the phrase ‘post-punk’ here because I have no clue what it means. Isn’t everything post-punk anyway? It was 40 odd years ago so can we please move on. I love the energy in this track and can just imagine a dive-bar scene with this bunch getting the crowd jumping. Very keen on this.
Broken Soundtracks – You Can Try. A more traditional approach to my ear. Laconic vocals and the guitar work take me to the north of England for some reason. Don’t know why. They are probably from London.
Hola Ghost – Copenhagen Gringo. Rhythmic opening at a slow(ish) tempo with bass and drums. Gentle six string work overlays this background to good effect. No idea what the song is about.
Muertos – Ballroom Spritzer. Gradually fades in, introducing dark vocals and lyrics – ‘Like a loaded shotgun / You blow my mind’. The melody is simple but brooding and menacing (I have always wanted to write that in a review) as are the themes. Enjoyed the vocals on this one and the ending from a guitar perspective.
Love Buzzard – Guns Before Butter. A bit like the Sly Persuaders in terms of the punchy rhythm with the messy guitars. A quirky track which I think is what it is supposed to be. Unconventional but maybe that is what surf rock is. Or is this garage? I don’t know (obviously). Anyway, bags of energy and the guitars take a pounding in this, all of which is to be applauded.
Deja Vega – Skeletons In The Forest. Coming into the home straight as far as this review goes and I have to say I am enjoying this collection. One thing I will say is that this scene does have a penchant for great song titles and short, energetic numbers. Makes a change for me. I always prioritise Guns Before Butter btw (What?! – Maisey). Leave the Lurpak to one side and pass me my AK47. This song bursts into life in places, underpinned by a repeating bass(?) line, which keeps the interest levels high.
Dedwardians – Like An Animal. Grinding guitar opening with that same punchy rhythm as Sly Persuaders. I think the song title tells us all that needs to be said about this track. Aggressive, loud and raucous.
Mystifed – Acid Gasp. More excellent song titles. More excellent music if truth be told. This track is all over the place. In a good way. Kick ass attitude from the vocalist throughout the line up. Nothing fancy, just in your face from the opening bars to the end. Not one to play to your grandmother but it will do me just fine.
Sunlight Service Group – Winemaker Part 2. Last one. One of the more ethereal ones with the vocals floating over almost jazz-like bass and heavily effected guitars. Almost hippy-like in its flavour. A nice comforting tune to finish off.
Well, that’s the end of this short review. I hope someone, somewhere will read it – it’s my honest assessment at a first listen to music I have never encountered before. Thanks to Josh for pointing me in this direction and I hope he likes at least some of it.