As the title indicates, this Musing carries on from where the last one ended and sees me waxing lyrical again about music which falls squarely into the rock ‘n’ roll genre. Again, two bands featured, and the reason that I have put these two together is that they have a shared history, in that both are rooted in a band called Molotov Sexbomb that used to prowl the stages of the south of the country and whom I had the pleasure of working with several times. (I also want to apologise to all concerned for the time it has taken me to get around to this. Well, you know…writers! We’re rubbish.)
das Ghoul is a band that has managed to take heady slices of rock’n’roll drive and gothic sonic theatrics and meld them into something cool. (Their disrespect for capitalisation pisses off my spell-checker, which also makes me happy. Fuck you, Grammarly!) Not for them the cliche of the former or the silly pantomime of the latter. Perhaps only The Damned have pulled off such a dark coup so well in the past, and that makes for an excellent initial reference point. One blast of the latest album, the punnishly titled Fruit of the Gloom, shows that albums such as Phantasmagoria have a real contender on their hands.
They also throw no small amount of punk energy into the mix and balance those sharp edges with dark orchestral keyboard washes to create music which wanders from lulling lows to spikey highs, which ebbs and flows between calm sonic waters and crashing peaks of power, which is razor-edged yet able to wrap you in soft melodics. Dark, delicious, doom-laden and delightful.
How Do You Know We’re Not In Hell is a tsunami of raucous riffs and thunderous beats, Bring Out Your Dead is what you might get if Bauhaus had formed, not in late seventies Northampton, but much more recently in Oxford, and Mannequin is a rumbling, charging, raw, incendiary groover polished by awe-inspiring, Bach-esque keyboard overtones.
It’s rock, it’s punk, it’s goth, it’s symphonic…it’s awesome.
The other band connected to the Molotov Sexbomb family tree is The Suicide Notes, and, as with all cool bands, you can tell a lot about them by the way they dress. Their love of rock and roll couture and glam accessories speaks volumes, a style favoured by the likes of Dog’s D’amour, who stole it from Hanoi Rocks, who in turn took lessons from Johnny Thunders, who learned to assemble a wardrobe from the masters…early 70’s Stones and particularly Keef himself. It is a look which has lasted, iconic, to say the least.
And if the clothes speak volumes, then the music backs up the image, and the four tracks found on Trampstamp are a sleazy, groove-ridden journey through everything that I love about rock ‘n’ roll. And at this point, I will remind people what I said in my previous missive of the difference of what separates rock ‘n’ roll from rock. The former is…
“The sort of music made by people who consider The Stones minor deities, Johnny Thunders a prophet and Nikki Sudden its wandering minstrel. Music that swang, grooved, boogied…cut a rug, flipped a wig, threw shapes.”
The latter, all too often, rigid, overly-ernest, humourless and cold.
Having a singer whose voice suggests a diet of Marlboro’s, cheap bourbon and razor blades is an attention grabber, and then the music falls brilliantly into line behind it. Rolling With the Punches comes racing out of the traps, all attitude and swagger but also groove and fun, proving that if you are going to sonically sucker punch the listener, then you need to do it with melodics and accessibility rather than just volume: boogie wins over than bombast, every time.
Snakes Grin Within shows that The Suicide Notes have done their homework, and I would hazard a guess that between them, there is any number of the aforementioned Dogs, Gunfire Dance, Quireboys, Michael Monroe and Hanoi Rocks, and perhaps even The Throbs (does anyone remember them?) albums in their record collections.
And, as if to underline the band that evolved such a style in the first place, that blend of white boy blues meets rock and roll, they fit in a cover of The Stones’ Dead Flowers as a fitting tip of the hat.
Two great bands, two great albums, and two more to add to your gig list. And, when considered with the bands featured in the last Musical Musing, there is more than an hint that the market for FONMHDNNMRNR (Foot on the monitor, heads down, no-nonsense, mindless, rock n roll…yes, I know, I don’t think that will fly as a catchy scene title) is not only healthy but booming.