Does Drenge‘s debut LP provide ‘relentless shots of adrenalin straight to the cerebral cortex‘? Niall McGuirk finds out.
Years ago I went to London, it was Summer of 1991 if memory serves me right – the year Pop Will Eat Itself played the Reading festival.. How do I remember that? Well it’s a bit of a long story but it involves using someone elses interail ticket to travel to Reading to buy a ticket for the festival and on being informed I couldn’t buy one for the day I decided it was all too expensive so didn’t buy my weekend one. You have to remember that this was pre-internet days so all plans were made and acted on in person and not through the luxury of an electronic device. Anyway, I travelled back to the squat we were staying in Hammersmith and then paid a visit to some record labels just to say hi, unannounced. Most of the labels were quite happy with this and I made some good acquaintances this way.
One such label was Clawfist and my reason for saying hi was they had a band on their label which featured Nick, formerly of the Membranes. We only needed a tenuous link to talk to people back then (that was our social media of the day). Nick worked in a record shop in Camden that had a motorbike hanging out the window. It was a world us Dublin people knew nothing about. Anyway, the day I visited Nick my punk rock ears were opened to a new form of music. Garage punk. Nicks band were called Gallon Drunk.
“What has this got to do with Drenge?” you may ask. Well, everything and nothing. Drenge remind me of that 23 year old travelling around the UK for the fun of it listening to music and consumed by bands. They are a 2 piece which is amazing considering the noise that comes from them. Their song titles giveaway their sound, ‘People in Love Make me Feel Yuck‘, ‘Dogmeat‘, ‘Face Like A Skull‘ all have that grungey, dirgey punky rock sound. The garage feel to them explodes out at times. Some are faster like ‘Backwaters‘ and ‘Gun Crazy‘ and could come from New York in the 70’s rather than England in 2013. There are riffs galore, even the choice of cover, ‘I Don’t Want To Make Love To You’ has that dripping sound. It all ends up slightly Arctic Monkeys-ish with ‘Fuckabout’ but don’t let that put you off, it is preceded by an 8 minute dreamy ‘Let’s Pretend‘.
Reading the press release that comes with it is an education in itself. If you are to believe the publicists then “Drenge seize the brain with terminally catchy melodies and catchy hooks“. They are also “relentless shots of adrenalin straight to the cerebral cortex“. To me they have a riff-laden garage sound which is as enjoyable an experience as sitting outside the Reading Festival listening to Pop Will Eat Itself, trying to figure out a way of bunking in.