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Cheap Freaks – Teenage Brains EP

Big Neck Records

8/10 – Ass-kicking Dublin garage rock (i guess it’s GERR-uj, not guh-RAWJ?)

I thought there wasn’t good rock’n’roll coming from anywhere but the American South and Australia these days, so imagine my surprise when I transplant my ass to Dublin and find out there’s actually some pretty fucking good music going on. This 4 song EP, made available as a free download here -> http://cheapfreaks.blogspot.com/ is one to throw one before you head out to a show, as you try to drink away the sorrow over the fact that you’re not seeing these badass motherfuckers. Haven’t had the good fortune to see the Freaks live, but I can only imagine it’s an experience – this EP is more enjoyable than most live shows I see.

It kicks off with a serious ripper, “Can’t Fool Me.” Classic Big Neck shit – I wanna say the BASEBALL FURIES are a touchstone, and I’m feeling like these guys might replace the hole in my heart the Furies left after their 2009 turd of an LP. Thank god, the Freaks break free of the Fury-aping muck that sinks some other BN releases I’ve heard – this is all the intensity and fun minus plus some original shit of their own. It’s got a solid thump to it, and it’s over way too fast. Production values are fucking delicious – lo-fi without falling prey to shit-tier Wavves scuzzery – think CHEAP TIME.

“Cryin’ Shame” opens with a hum, then grabs you by the balls and twists them once for good measure. You will rock, and you will roll, ya pansy. Sweet Jesus, “Sleep With You” has a tasty-ass guitar line, which slides into a bouncy little chorus. This beat is titanic…good lord, those keys. This song is almost like Reverend Horton Heat, but interesting to listen to past the 1 minute mark. Also, tape echo’s pretty cool – I wish more bands would make songs like this. “I’m Coming Home” is pretty solid, but nothing compared to the glory of the last one. The indebtedness to Thee Mighty Greg Cartwright, THE OBLIVIANS and REIGNING SOUND, is pretty strong, but if the tunes are there, the tunes are there. Plus, it’s fuckin free.

BASS DRUM OF DEATH ‘GB CITY’ LP

RATING: 8/10

GB City is a cool, catchy, thrashy garage rock n roll party album that will hit you like 1000 flaming bong-headed dragons.  John Barrett, the guitarist/singer/songwriting mastermind behind BASS DRUM OF DEATH, claims this album was recorded under the influence of a terrible new drug called “Marijuana”.  Single-handedly responsible for WAVVES, WIZ KHALIFA and other wretched abominations, “Marijuana” seems to have no effect on BASS DRUM OF DEATH’s ability to kick ass!

2-pieces heavily rely on the talent of the frontman, and John Barrett has no problem filling the lead role.  The dude has a cool voice and sings his repetitive blues-based melodies with a cocky attitude, in this sorta-twangy, sorta-aloof, sorta-snotty timbre.  He mostly strums just a few macho bar chords and throws in some basic pentatonic riffs that powerfully chug along to Colin Sneed’s pounding straight ahead rock beats.  Verse/chorus/verse/chorus awesomeness.  It’s all very simple but stupidly effective.

The production on this record is really fucking perfect.  The vocals are up-front like they should be, double-tracked and filtered through distortion fx for that classic 2000s garage sound you crave.  The guitars are loud, slashing, dirty, murky; the drums are thunderous!  Every last note on this platter just pops, baby!  The vinyl is mastered loud as DEATH.

‘Young Pros’ is the hit, with an uncharacteristically swingin’ beat and a doowop chord progression sprinkled with sugary pop hooks, catchy falsettos and AHHs and oohs and bright trebly guitars.  The track wouldn’t sound out of place on a TURBO FRUITS album (when he’s trying hard enough, John Barrett sings a lot like FRUITS frontman Jonas Stein).  The pot-punk anthem ‘High School Roaches’ is the best song WAVVES never wrote.  There are a few songs that are extremely reminiscent to that human-garage-rock-factory TY SEGALL (‘Heart Attack Kid, ‘I Could Be Your Man’).  But my favorite track is definitely ‘Get Found’, a helluva mid-tempo rock stomper featuring an addictive opening riff with STOOGESy meatiness, driven by that lovable ol’ VELVETS beat, and a most charismatic vocal performance by Johnny B (Goode). 

There is probably not one guitar riff or melody on this album that you haven’t already heard before.  But the rhythms are so utterly driving, the hooks are so incessant, and its all got this youthful, jaunty exuberance that only a coupla baby-faced reefer tokin’, rock n rollin’ rascals from the boondocks can deliver! So many….hits…maaann… 

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