It seems very few people utter a breath about 2016 any more. Probably for good reason, it seemed very much like a culling of revered figures and idols of popular culture, let alone a universal gasp of disbelief at what idiocy we may have unleashed on the world. 2017 isn’t really fairing any marginally better in that department, by a hair strand at best. But whisper it: The music is fantastic. If you want to invest in it of course. Admittedly, this list was compiled at the inset of 2017, but as the halfway stage of this year rapidly approaches, it still holds as an all-star ensemble of killer bands you may have overlooked, some yet to release their brand new material and some you may never have heard of. It seems like a solid enough foundation for this article to still exist, while maintaining some resemblance of relevance. That, and you may be reading this, looking for some new music to listen over the summer. Let’s get started, shall we?
There was something inherently right ironically when Refused released The Shape Of Punk To Come: punk rock over the years seems to have morphed predominantly into the hardcore we are all familiar with and ten a penny’s worth emblazoned on the cover of Kerrang. Don’t get me wrong, I love Refused and there are some excellent hardcore bands out there if you’re willing to do a little digging. My point is, hardcore tends be the norm if you’re looking for something that even remotely resembles punk nowadays. I can hear people crying pop-punk in the distance, but let’s just be serious a moment. Hardcore it seems presents itself as an outlet for a melting pot of rage and testosterone, and it can all come across as a bit violent at times. Creating a riot for catharsis’ sake I guess I can understand the appeal of, but not when I’m getting roundhouse kicked in the face by some topless prick in the mosh pit. I can’t speak for myself because I wasn’t present in the 70’s and had no idea of riot grrrl at least until my teens, but do you remember when punk wasn’t so macho, or dare I say it, a lot more fun? Screech Bats seem to certainly think about that time. I mean, their band logo is a dinosaur with pigtails eating an ice-cream for Christ sakes. You could certainly whisper riot grrrl under your breath as so much as look at them, but out of everything that seems to be rising from the dead right now, the presence of more all-female punk bands is more than OK with me. And these girls kick ass.
On first listen, their sound comes across as an unmistakably more British interpretation of The Distillers, but gradually you taste the flavours of punk, grunge and good ol’ fashioned rock and roll with the lightest hit of pop sensibilities, all emerging from a punchy concoction. Their work ethic is certainly something to be celebrated too. They haven’t been on the face of the Earth a year yet and already they’re racking the gigs up and have their first EP out in the world. Under cover of darkness, they released a track off the self-titled aforementioned EP a month or so ago, called Pathologigirl and based on the strength of this track alone, Screech Bats are shaping up to be a very special band. From the moment the pistol trigger is pulled, you’re treated to quick, chainsaw-on-fire sounding chords, harmonised by jagged guitar and gritty bass, brought to life by an animated drum performance. From the double bass kicks and brief drum rolls, you get the feel for Bad Religion over Sex Pistols, but the pace and technique remains timeless in any sense. Vocals skate alongside, telling a tale about the bane of any girl, or child for that matter growing up: playground bullying, and judging on the choice of words used, there’s a lot of bad blood and disdain here, and you can certainly feel it drip from every scathing syllable. A lovely little guitar lick, showcasing some of that grunge and rock and roll influence, propels you into the chorus, which has all the traits of a great punk anthem: memorability, gang chants, an opportunity for massive audience participation and rock solid musicianship, all swashed with the confidence, attitude and swagger that punk breeds. It also has a cracking guitar solo too near the song’s close and ends in white hot riff worship, which I think we’ll see a little more from in the future. All in all, this is a rousing and incredibly exciting sub-three minute burst of unity through fury, exactly the foundations punk was built upon before it started taking steroids. Who needs Bad Religion when you have this hard-working quartet of ladies practically sitting on your doorstep? They’ll probably kick the door down too. Inspiring listening.
The self-titled EP is available to purchase from their online store for an absolute steal, while I’m led to believe a download purchase is currently in the works too. Meanwhile, they’re touring anywhere and everywhere, so go see them at the date nearest you. I promise you won’t regret it.
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