NEW SWEARS – GOOD GIRLS

New Swears

New Swears are a 4 piece hailing from Ottowa, Canada but that is entirely irrelevant as all you need to know is that they specialise in, two minute, jangly garage-punk tunes. Earlier this year New Swears released their debut LP, Funny Isn’t Real, on Dirt Cult Records and for me, ‘Good Girls’ typifies their sound; harnessing as much of the energy of a live show as possible and putting it onto a record. The energy they are harnessing, however, is that of those seemingly unfeasibly DIY shows at house parties and in gazebos full of upside people and silly string, and that’s what this album sounds like. I don’t know how you get invited to these events, perhaps I live in the wrong continent to turn up to a party and have loads of pissed garage bands shout stupid stuff at me about drinking beer and dying, but everyone is invited to New Swears’ party on Funny Isn’t Real!

It’s hard to argue that a lot of garage punk doesn’t sound the same, but this album comes with all the freshness and enthusiasm of the DIY shows it has been the soundtrack for. The thing about a garage band’s first LP is that they are not obliged to rethink and reinvent the genre at all, as bands on their third or fourth album might have to. It’s just simple and genuine fun. ‘Good Girls’ rattles along at pace, with snarling vocals, typically fuzzed-out guitars and a brash, catchy chorus complete with keyboard glissando and house-party logic lyrics – ‘Sometimes good girls go bad/ bad girls they never go good’.

YUPPIES – HITCHIN’ A RIDE

As a form of an update from the previous post, Andrew Savage set up a record label called Dull Tools with Dull Tools with Teenage Cool Kids bandmate, Chris Pickering, and the Yuppies self-titled LP is their next release on 15th of September. The band have been around for a few years already, but now with the endorsement of Savage and Pickering they look set to deliver their frenzied energy, both live and on the record, to a wider audience.

Hitchin a Ride is a highlight from the Omaha band’s 3 track LP preview, which you can listen to on bandcamp. This 3 minute 54 loose, punky sprawl offers a fresh take on landlocked-frustration but also has a lot in common with Dull Tool’s other releases; the riff could easily have been taken from Parquet Court’s debut LP, Light Up Gold, but the vocal delivery is more frantic and aggressive. The other two songs offer more of the same pent-up Midwestern frustration and I’m looking forward to the album to see if they can keep up being so damn down to earth and annoyed when the blogosphere is surely set to explode with nice words about them.

TEENAGE COOL KIDS – QUEER SALUTATIONS (2007)

Teenage Cool Kids

In their 2007 debut LP Teenage Cool Kids typify what it is for a band to be indie-rock. The genre can be be all encapsulating in it’s vagueness and it can be a flimsy definition for any band, (discuss: were The Kooks an indie-rock band?) but from a relatively simplistic indie-rock platform, Teenage Cool Kids created a distinct sound, which did justice to their cult-like status. The band’s 4-piece set up is instantly recognisable and provides a stable base for the album, with twinkly interjections alongside riffs that become catchier and catchier with every listen.

One such riff acts as a set up for the title track, the first song on the album. What becomes apparent however, is the lyrical intent of the album, which is obvious from their first words of ‘Queer Salutations‘ – lead vocalist and songwriter, Andrew Savage, sneers out the words ‘you were rolling on X the night that we first met‘, which provides the punch that the slightly punch-less production prevents the guitars from doing. In the second song, ‘Awkward Type of Girl‘, Savage’s vocals almost exactly follow lead guitarist, Bradley Kerl’s, sharp guitar line through the chorus. This crude technique of explicitly matching the vocals with the guitar melody serves to translate the frankness of the lyrics in their totality while they poke fun at various subjects -‘put on a record, he doesn’t get it/ “I’m not a fan of shallow indie he admitted”‘.

Savage’s vocals are snidely tuneful and their importance cannot be underestimated – they carry the melody of the album, driving it forward and it’s the vocals that stay with you days after listening. Nowhere is this clearer than in ‘Self Abuse‘, for my money the best song on the album. Once again a twinkly riff launches into Savage’s barefaced, almost insolent vocals – ‘there’s so little I have left to scream about’ and the song culminates in the eminently shout-alongable final verse, when all four band members gang up on the lyrics to yell them out – perfectly conveying the sheer joy of being in a band together whilst bemoaning some ex-girlfriend or other.

Famously, Savage is now one of two lead songwriters and vocalists in New York’s fantastic Parquet Courts. He explained in an interview how his songs come about, first as a collection of lyrics which relate to each other in someway and the actual music, normally just a few chords, comes after that. Obviously he was saying this as Parquet Court’s Andrew Savage but it is hard not to extrapolate and say that this is how he wrote songs for the album Queer Salutations, too. Some lyrics from the 5th song on the album, ‘Excursions into Philosophy‘ read:

‘Two years almost two this day I sat where we once sat like I was visiting a grave, you told me here in confidence the only time that you got off is when your brothers friends threw rocks at you and forced you to eat dog shit and called you names that you make your lovers call you when they’re fucking you

these words, like many others on the album, don’t necessarily have rhyme or rhythm but are fitted into the song through an extraordinary act of enjambment and confidence, and ultimately there is always a sting in the tail come the end of the stream-of-consciousness. The above lyrics aside, perhaps, Savage proves himself to be a savvy and pithy wordsmith on the album, jeering throughout at various aspects of youth culture he thinks may be contrived, with sarcastic put-downs.

In terms of their sound, Teenage Cool Kids put their cards on the table for Queer Salutations – ‘Reasons Why‘ acts in parts as almost a replica of Built to Spill’s ‘Reasons‘ – and it’s hardly ground-breaking for modern bands to draw on 90’s influences, but Queer Salutations is snappier and blunter and erudite in a more pissed-off way. Savage recorded three albums with Teenage Cool Kids, a band who seemed to become ever so slightly disillusioned come the end of the second record, but with Parquet Courts he has re-harnessed his energy, and it sounds like taking the piss out of teenage kids who think they’re cool is as enjoyable for him now as it was in 2007.

GROSS MAGIC – SWEETEST TOUCH

It’s great to be able to have a favourite song.

Gross Magic are, or more likely, were, a one man Brighton-based project from Sam McGarrigle. Searching now for the Sounds of Sweet Nothing Bandcamp page where you used to be able to buy Gross Magic’s 2011 8 track EP ‘Teen Jamz’, you are met with Bandcamp’s profound and polite statement: ‘sorry, that something isn’t here’.

As far as I know, Gross Magic’s last live performance in the UK was at a charity gig put on by McGarrigle’s Dad in Brighton in March and there are no signs of activity since then. One day there will be a Searching for Sugarman-esque documentary about the quest to find members of Gross Magic when it turns out the ‘Teen Jamz’ EP played a pivotal role in breaking down the sectarian divisions in Syria. What is certain, however, is that the grungey fuzz of that riff still gives me a warm feeling in my crotch and provides an ideal backdrop to the carefree falsetto of the vocals while the song maintains the perfect ratio of glitter and garage rock. It’s really really cool.

The E.P. is a fruity set of lo-fi, poppy jams, listen to ‘Yesterdays‘, ‘P.Y.T’ and ‘Teen Jamz‘. That’s most of it. The bassist of Gross Magic’s live band is now solo-operating under the name Von Stonholdt, more bedroom jamz recorded on a £20 microphone, yeah? Check out ‘21st Century Problems‘.