It’s easy to get complacent sometimes. It starts with a War On Drugs album. It has a bit of guitar, you’re a little uncomfortable that it sounds a lot like that Don Henley record from the eighties or Dire Straits, but you let it go. Then you find yourself tuning in to Absolute Radio. You quite like hearing that old Bryan Adams tune. Next thing you know, you hear Sam Smith on Radio One and think “Well at least it isn’t as bad as all those Ibiza-style bangers”.
Before you know it, you’re describing Taylor Swift as a “talented songwriter” (“no, she really is…”) and calling the helpline for people trying to get over Zayn Malik leaving One Direction.
If any of this is ringing any bells, don’t panic. I think I have the perfect antidote.
Drenge has just released a new album, called “Undertow”. Drenge just played Rough Trade East and were, without a shadow of a doubt, the loudest band I have heard play there. Rather than plug their guitars into the PA system, I suspect they merely plugged their microphones into the PA, and let their significantly loud Fender Amps do the rest.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is what real rock n roll bands do…
This was my first chance to see the band as a three piece, and, unlike the introduction of Camilla Parker Bowles into the relationship of Charles and Diana, it has done Drenge no harm at all. Whilst Rob Graham’s bass tends towards a fuzzy tone at the expense of a truly deep bass sound, it was good to hear the new -and old – songs played as a power trio.
The first track in last night’s 40 minute slot at Rough Trade East, and new album opener “Running Wild” is drenched in the sort of fuzz tones last found on Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut, yet with its tuned-down guitar, actually sounds like the best song Kyuss never wrote, not that the Loveless brothers were even born when either of those bands were making records.
In between a couple of songs from the debut album, much of the new album is played, including the title track of Undertow – an instrumental. “Standing in The Cold” stands out, alongside set closers “We Can Do What We Want” and “Never Awake”, whilst “The Snake” has an infectious riff and allow Rory Loveless to stretch his drumming chops.
In short, if you find yourself slipping towards a quiet and unexciting life, and this disturbs you, have a word with your doctor, and ask him to prescribe you a dose of Drenge. Guaranteed to unblock the ear holes, and undoubtedly the best thing to take if you are losing your War On Drugs….