Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drenge Drenches A Self-Titled Debut

Some people might expect a bigger blues influence to come out of the tiny village of Castleton in Derbyshire, England. But they would be wrong. What the Loveless brothers decided to do instead was lean on grungy guitar riffs and distorted psychedelic rhythms to produce their post-grunge sound.

Then, after picking up a small following last year, the band gained some surprise attention when Tom Watson, a member of parliament, endorsed them in his resignation letter. "...And if you want to see an awesome band," he concluded. "I recommend Drenge."

The plug earned them an early listen, even if Eoin Loveless (vocals/guitar) and his brother Rory (drums) were already well on their way with a five-track set slated for iTunes Festival: London 2013. Along with the festival, their label had already queued up a two-track teaser, Bloodsports/Dogmeat.

The self-titlted debut Drenge ignites some post-grunge interest.  

As Bloodsports and Dogmeat were both released stateside (and reviewed) in January, either track makes for a great place to start the album. The first is a post-breakup monotony song that languishes on the idea that she either needs to come back or someone better come along before the trance is broken. Dogmeat is a cleverly callous attack on being underestimated.

Not surprisingly, Bloodsports and Dogmeat are two of the strongest tracks but they are far from being the only tracks. Backwaters is a loss of innocence track, laced with quiet desperation to hold on to those few things in life that don't require wrecking something else. (The video doesn't do it much justice.)

It also uncovers the band's predisposition to balance the beauty, brutality, and sense of being trapped in a small town. The album opener, People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck, does the same. Aside from being a languishing garage rocker that hints at not wanting to give up on pre-adolescence, it touches on the expectation to fall along with everyone else.

It's pretty clear that the Loveless brothers have no intention of following along. They are more likely to head in the opposite direction of everything. Sure, Gun Crazy might allude to allowing someone to like them, but other tracks lean more toward rejection than attention. I Don't Want To Make Love To You amplifies an uncensored push off that borders on revulsion.

There is also some unbridled aggression on the crackling racket of I Wanna Break You In Half. The angst is rock solid, even if the internal fuming here doesn't sound like anything literal. I Wanna Break You In Half feels much more in line with stomping your feet on the inside, not outside.

Face Like A Skull resurrects grunge in all its glory. Nothing is one part rage and one part temptation. The under covered and somber Let's Pretend will roll around in your head for more than eight minutes. All of them, Eoin says, were written when he was unemployed and bored out of his mind.

The album closes with Fuckabout, which remains one of my favorite tracks on the album. It opens with a brilliantly subtle melodic open before the band crushes its ability to quietly contemplate self-doubt and existence. The track might still be about small town boredom and being a slacker of sorts, and it touches a nerve for anyone who has felt momentarily dazed by life.

Self-Titled By Drenge Drenches 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

The initial Bloodsports and Dogmeat release was a solid pairing from a band that has a very real potential to go places and the album reinforces that notion. Drenge is the real deal among post-grunge bands that occasionally entertain a garage rock sound from the nineties.

You can find the self-titled album Drenge on Amazon. You can also download any of the tracks from iTunes or find the vinyl issue of Drenge at Barnes & Noble. For concert dates, find the band on Facebook.
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