Song of the day – 164: Armedalite Rifles
So some guy reads my piece on Australian garage bands and decides to contact me on Facebook, asking if I’d like to hear a CD of his band. I say, direct me to your music first, so he does. I give it a listen. I like it. It’s all spark and fire: rhythms like Captain Beefheart and Can and Pere Ubu did rhythms, guitars that clash and a name that references obliquely possibly the Gang Of Four’s finest moment. From Orange County, NY.
I’m marginally put off by the CD artwork that reads Shambolic? Indeed! because that – like twee, like C86 – was a description that we gigging, undervalued musicians of the UK’s Eighties underbelly scorned, understanding that it was a very easy way to dismiss our muse. (Having said that, I always did write that Teenage Fanclub lost a certain something live when they stopped their habit of starting every song three times.) But whatever. I couldn’t deny I was intrigued by the sound: it ain’t so often folk try and capture the caustic guitars of the Eighties, they’re more often attracted to the more cuddly jangle. And it seems like if you’re going to try to emulate anyone’s vocal sound then you should go straight to the source – David Thomas, you fools – not to the countless folk who try and emulate someone trying to emulate someone who’s trying to emulate David Thomas. (There are three degrees of separation: Kurt Cobain – Frank Black – David Thomas.)
There’s a band from the UK called Sarandon. Armedalite Rifles remind me of them, in lots of ways.
So anyway, I write back and say, sure I’d like to hear the CD. So this dude James Corubbio sends me a CD and a short press release that brags both Lenny Kaye and Glenn Mercer of The Feelies have been attracted to their undeniably shambolic but still very fiery and wonderful bruised sound, and that they like to self-release vinyl albums, and I guess to that list they’ll need to add me next time, if I have any cachet in Orange County at all (which I severely doubt). There’s this one song on the album, ‘Love + Hate’ which is epic in the way Black Diamonds and Wild Colonials and half of The Modern Dance is epic. But apparently Armedalite Rifles genre-hop with skill and fortitude and true fan opportunism – and they certainly do dub like New Age Steppers once did dub – so I’ve probably given you a complete false impression of their groove.
There’s something quite The Deadnotes + The Legend! about them as well.