Save Me –  Suburban Vermin (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Suburban-Vermin-Group-PhotoIn such an interconnected age as today, I’m surprised more bands don’t realise that just making music is limiting your appeal and that the best approach is a multi-pronged media attack. Okay, many deliver their music with a video to create a pincer movement of audio and images but far too few put out their own comic book series, one where they are the characters and the music can be considered the sound track. That’s clever, very clever.

Save Me is Suburban Vermin doing what they do best, splicing rasping old-school punk with the pop-punk revivalists who followed a decade or so later, 60’s garage rock with the stripped down nu-punk of the here and now, into a best of all worlds musical scenario. It is short, sharp and to the point, pop aware and highly melodic, raw, ragged, punchy and jagged. Everything that the subversive strains of rock in all its forms has thrived on since the first rockers declared James Dean a deity and went into battle to win the heart, mind and disposable income of the newly designated teenager.

If there is a better garage rock band operating on the circuit today then I’m yet to stumble across them, they capture all the raw energy, swagger, verve and attitude of a small club band bursting out of their restrictive environment to take on the world. They are also a band who have worked out that the wheel doesn’t need re-inventing, it just needs a clean up, re-treading and some fancy rims added then taken out for a spin to leave some indelible and unsightly marks all over the road, possibly invoking an angry letter to the local newspaper from local residents. Buckle up; it is going to be one hell of a ride.

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Different Note/Beat Before Breakdown – Suburban Vermin (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

17796140_10155001302511011_2672434511021850558_nThe wonderfully named Suburban Vermin continue their mission to pour all the snottiest, surliest, most belligerent and confrontational strains of music from the contemporary era into their sonic cauldron and create a new musical soup for the current disaffected and disenfranchised times.

In a whisker under three minutes Different Note manages to embrace the sneering punk, brutal tastes of the hardcore fan and misunderstood angst ridden grunger in one fell swoop. The raw and relentless drive will speak to metalheads and the dark and jagged undertones are a place even the estranged proto-goth can find solace. Call it what you will this is mutant rock at its finest.

Beat Before Breakdown follows its own advice and delivers something that sounds straight out of CBGB’s from that disease ridden golden age of the mid-seventies, put this in a Heartbreakers set (time travel required) and no-one would bat an eye lid.

If Suburban Vermin prove one thing it is that we can argue about generic labels, fashion and fine details but the spirit that runs through their songs is one that has been catching the ear of every wild eyed loner since James Dean first embodied the image over half a century ago. It isn’t really about the messenger it is about the message, the common ground, the tribal connection, the idea that you may not be as alone as you think.

The songs speak attitude, the lyrics drip bile and the whole package seems to be a vehicle for the dark underbelly of every musical outsider since the clock was first rocked around. It’s a wonderful skill to have, to be able to take every disinherited idea, every discarded and ignored, non-conformist expression music has ever turned its commercial minded back on and forge them into an all embracing, all uniting anthem, but its what Suburban Vermin do. Deal with it!

Die Miss America – Suburban Vermin (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

3833220-1Music historians will tell you that Punk, in its original form, evolved from two separate sources. In America, the nucleus was a New York scene of garage rock bands, musical hustlers and street urchins, in the UK bored London art college kids re-appropriated glam imagery and invented their own high velocity pop. Their common ground was always to be found more in the attitude and swagger than in any strong musical bonds. It is interesting to note, therefore, that Seattle’s Suburban Vermin seem built on the heritage of both scenes, the advantage afforded both in being able to look back from afar and the ubiquity of old music to the modern market.

Opening on a bass line that The Pop Group themselves would kill to have written, Die Miss America somehow blends the pop sensibility and the frantic melody of the Old world with the scatter-gun guitar and aggressive swagger of the New. It is underpinned by a touch of Killing Joke’s industrial sturm and drang, brash Clash-ness but never loses that Lower East Side basement vibe.

Accompanying track, It’s Over, sees more of their home city’s traditions seeping into their music. It is a more textured and dynamically astute affair, leaning more towards the embryonic grunge scene and its later Riot Grrrl offshoots and offers a wonderful contrast to its more punchy and direct musical companion.

There probably isn’t too much more that can be done with the punk template after all these years, not without wandering off into “fusion” territory, and why would you? Suburban Vermin however pull off that great trick of reminding us of all that was great about the genre across a couple of decades and still bring enough of themselves to the game that it never seems pastiche or plagiaristic. Clever, very clever.

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