Drenge - Strange Creatures - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Drenge - Strange Creatures

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2019-02-22
Drenge - Strange Creatures
Drenge - Strange Creatures

Apparently, the band said, “OK, we’ve got to make this album spooky.”

They did.

But they’ve also made a really great rock record.

Now, a confession: I always want to change the channel when one of those Time-Life ten CD Music of the Sixties collection is on the television. You know, somebody finds an aging rock star, who wasn’t smart enough to own his publishing, who has added a few pounds and reminisces, as best he can, through the hallucinogenic memories about those good old days. And there’s usually a young woman who asks happy questions to the old geezer rock guy who had a hit single back in 1966. She laughs a lot. You know, I actually itch to flip the channel, because it’s all so corny; but the music is so good and everybody is so young in the videos. And the aging rock star doesn’t have any grey hair. So, I watch. And then I watch it again and again. Thankfully, my own music collection includes most of this music (with bonus tracks to boot!), so I can resist the $19.99 in just five installments offer.

Although, in truth, it’s always tough to turn down that free shipping temptation.

Oh, and did I say that music was so good?

And speaking of good music, this album is a cornucopia, just like that Time-Life ad, of everything that is great about rock music.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

So, let me count all the post-punk bands that vibrate in these grooves:

The Cure, The Stranglers, The Gang of Four, The Sound, Nirvana, The Screaming Trees, Arctic Monkeys, Wire, The White Stripes, Magazine, and the occasional vocal that evokes Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

The band says, they were “ripping themes and ideas apart, sewing them back together.”

Well, they do, indeed, sew rock back together, and like the Frankenstein hybrid, they turn on the rock ‘n’ roll juice, and then dance in the resurrected grooves that are suddenly really new, and very much alive.

Now, in truth, the first song “Bonfire of the City Boys” is a spoken-song rant and manifesto, that despite its infectious guitar and drum groove, sounds a bit too much like Mensi and his Angelic Upstarts and their football chanted anthems that also proclaimed “fly in the ointment” punk platitude.

But the rest of the album is rock music salvation. “The Dance” has a barely controlled guitar riff. This is tough proof alcohol begging to be consumed. The vocals are murky in the mix and create that spooky ambiance. “Autonomy” has the hurried and heavily chorded urgency of an ambulance with an urgent passion that telegraphs the telepathic communication between the Loveless brothers with wonderous guitar and vocal from Eoin, and brother Roy who pounds the heavens with his drums. “Teenage Love” is rock music that has been etched into a fossilized vinyl record collection.

The title cut, “Strange Creatures,” conjures R.E.M. and everything about that 80’sound that was good, and then the guitars yank that sound into a current milieu. The old synapses are suddenly sated with yesterday’s sounds, and the band, with the lovely solo and clever backing vocals, press their signature into concrete footsteps of great rock music.

“Prom Night” explodes the inner sanctum of the record. The music slows. Suddenly, there is a gritty saxophone everywhere. Chaos finds a nice melody and a good dance. Then “No Flesh Road” is unleashed. It begins with a slow pulse, but then that pulse thickens to a hypnotic throb, that is, again, riff-heavy. And it sings a tribute to The Cure, circa Faith.

This is rock music euphoric mysticism.

And that’s always a good thing.

“Never Saw the Signs” is 80’s rock, once again, amped into our new world. “Avalanches” has the big dramatic grungy landscape of a sound with a melody that, perhaps, could have ended a prog epic from too many years ago. It’s dense, tough, and it is quite beautiful.

The final song, “When I Look into Your Eyes,” is (almost) acoustic with its (sort of) Gregorian chanted background vocals that frame a very earnest lead vocal in the tradition of the vital town crier. Again, this stamps the music with a new twist onto the rock ‘n’ roll dance floor.

You know, there is old music that makes great commercials about that old music. But this album buzzes with the old and the very new. And that buzz is the beauty of rock music. It is music that presses the stage into its audience, an audience that feeds on deep guitar riffs, an audience that erupts when the music erupts, and an audience that simply wants to vibrate to the great grooves of a band that plays their music, their way.

Perhaps, years from now, these songs might be part of a Time-Life collection. And, as with all classic rock stuff, a great tune is a great tune forever.

Oh, and after all the laundry has been done, did I say this music is so good?



Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Excellent music gets strangely transformed into disembodied otherness when it ends up in one of those Time-Life-type collections. I think Drenge is too vibrant and challenging to end up on one of those things!

Comment was last edited about 4 years ago by Bryan Radue Bryan Radue
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