Friday, 15 January 2010

The Old Romantic Killer Band
The Swan With Two Necks
Bad Sneakers Records
Rating: 5/5

What’s this, I hear you cry? A five out of five record review, for an album that clocks in at scarcely twenty-two minutes? Bear with me guys, and maybe you just might have your mind blown. I know the singing sounds just a little bit like Chris Cornell, and I know the guitar parts lie somewhere between Black Keys and Nirvana, but it is so much more than both.

The first track, ‘Girl, You Have All The Fun’, begins the album with a crooning “Girl, you have all the fun/girl, you have all the fun…/messin’ around with someone/ it’s not fun/ and he’s in love” before the distortion kicks in and the band starts rocking. From there on, I challenge you to dislike them. Yeah, it’s a skinny ginger guy from Leeds singing, not somebody from the American South, but isn’t that just more rock n’ roll? Throw away the pretensions, for these guys are doing exactly what they want, and doing it well. Better than well.

The second song is more stylistically similar to Californian Indie-punkers Lemuria (minus female singer), but by ‘Trouble Causer’, we’re back on track, complete with hoarse accusational cries of “how do you call yourself a man/ when there’s a clump of her hair on the floor?/ …you cause all the trouble”. Track Six, ‘Things to Come’, even has moments of Incubus-like pop rock refinement about it, and (dare I say it) first album Silverchair. It’s got that post- grunge ‘raw’ thing going on that you hear about in so many record reviews, but where those bands were affected this is the real deal.

It sounds, for all the quality of recording (which is admittedly high) like it was tracked in a basement on reels of tape made out of old no-brand whisky bottle labels. The thing is we’re in the twenty-first century; if you put some money behind a release, it’s going to sound good. If you can make a passable quality album in a bedroom with a laptop then it stands to reason that anything coming out of a studio should sound as crisp as this. That said there’s still something brutal about this release, something unheard for many years. There’s too much treble on some guitar tracks, sometimes too much mid on the distortion parts. Occasionally the cymbals threaten to wash out the entire affair. At these times even the sharp insistent pounding of the bass drum cannot keep the feeling at bay that the whole recording is about to crash to the ground and lay there burning.

This is a good thing; it’s why Raw Power is a great album as well, and it seems an obvious comparison to make. That rush just before all hell breaks loose is what the better moments of this album capture, and as someone who’s seen this band live, that is clearly not only intentional, but appropriate. For anyone that’s been wondering where the spirit of rock n’ roll went, know this: it hasn’t disappeared. It’s just a little-known secret called The Old Romantic Killer Band.

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