There is some music which, going on titles alone, begs more questions than answers. A band called, for example, Splat! could turn out to be almost anything musically. Similarly Doctor Bongo’s Electric Herring leaves you similarly bemused at what might lie within, though you can be fairly sure that drugs were involved in its construction. The only really certainty when it comes to names is that anything with an umlaut over a vowel is an old school metal band trying to look tough or worldly…or both. Lo-Hi Rebels presents no such problem, something of the sound and the attitude are captured in the band name and something of their worldly point of view in the album title.
If the opening salvo fires off in fairly expected style, underneath their scuzzy garage rock sound there are some less than expected reference points. Whilst many of the tracks seem to pay homage to the early days of Brit punk, somewhere between the brash melodics of the first wave and the more intense and destructive second, tracks like Last Chance Saloon are built on the echoes of the pre-punk, London R&B pub-rock era that when speed up and stripped down became the musical template for British punk. Got Soul also hints and a more interesting record collection, 60’s psych rock meets twisted beat music and Carol even shows that the band are not adversed to pop balladry, though obviously they drench it in visceral and raw guitars plus the odd jaunty retro riff and a lunatic crescendo.
Whilst so many bands are looking to create their own sound through convoluted vocal styles and cross genre fusions with an eye on the fickle fashion of the youth market, Lo-Fi Rebels wear their “art on their sleeve”. It may be cooler to reference happening indie bands or iconic American punk but the band are effectively channelling, reviving and updating a sound that has been wielded many times before from the likes of BB King to The Seeds to Dr Feelgood to Burning Tree, proving that great music does stand the test of time. If these are intentional references then good on them, it shows that they not only have great taste but are aware of their place in musical history, something that all bands should have a grasp on. If unintentional it probably says something about musical osmosis or that maybe humans have something in their DNA that makes them predisposed to such raw and primal sounds. I don’t know, I’m not actually a real scientist.