Anything that sounds like those formative proto-punk days, the time before the genre’s gatekeepers had laid down the rules and dogma, a time of experimentation, adventurousness, free expression and two-fingers up to any type of convention or conformity, is good with me. Free, which kicks off the new one from Leathers, is precisely that sound. It is the sound of blues being subsumed by the punk spirit. It is rock and roll being boiled down to its very essence. It is the sound of The Groove being free to do what it does best, unconcerned with fads or fashion.
Leathers don’t quite fit into any era or genre, and you can’t pin them down in terms of geography. They are so unfashionable, so uncategorisable, that they could exist at any point on the contemporary music family tree…but they would still be considered outsiders on whichever branch you hang them.
By the time you get past the stark and strident Jay Walkin’ and Truthin’, you realise their modus operandi. One solid, hypnotic riff, one unfussy and unembellished beat, barked and barbed vocals, and that’s it. But even something this simple is effective in the right hands. Leathers are certainly the right hands.
Nightbus is a stomping celebration of the waifs and strays, the botched and the bungled that you have to share that journey home after a night out on the tiles, Surprise Party is a series of staccato sonic punches and relentless grooves and Loosen up is not only a slice of punk ‘n’ roll life coaching but perhaps is a message to makers of more complex music that less is more. By god less is so much more. (As is proven by this album.)
It’s rock without the trimmings, punk without the cliche, soul with an overdoes of sass. It’s raw and rebellious yet delivered with humour and, in its own way, harmony. (Though harmony that has been attacked with a cheese grater, put through a blender and poured out into the most unsmooth smoothie imaginable…in a good way.)
There isn’t anyone quite like Leathers. Why would there be? One is enough, dontcha think?