Often sounding like a cross between The Lawrence Arms and Rancid, the Paris-based punk/punk n’ roll band The Black Stout arrive in size ten boots with a message. “We will kick your backside/since nobody did before us” shouts lead vocalist Vaness’ over the chorus of the opening number ‘Voices of Generation’, in a husky, drawling voice, influenced in places by Brody Dalle. She may have a point, since although France has spawned its share of punk bands over the years, few have made a significant breakthrough outside of their home country.
Across the three minutes of that opening number, the riffs have a classic pop-punk sound and the playing is tight; to reinforce the punk ‘n’ roll aspect of the band’s sound, on lead guitar, Dam offers a twangy, old school solo, with a few ugly notes for good measure. For those who want something in the straight up punk vein, ‘Prince Charming’s an Asshole’ is spiteful, fast and angry. The riffs in places sound like a meatier variant of the Adrenalin OD inspired material from the early Screeching Weasel discs. The jagged guitars and shout along chorus pack plenty of energy into just over three minutes during a number which barely takes time to breathe. Equally as good, possibly better, ‘Tell Us’ recycles the kind of punk-pop riffs and posturing you’ve heard from various Lookout! Records and Fat Wreck Chords album releases time and again. Vaness’s Brody Dalle-isms are at their most obvious here and with the shouty gang vocals on the chorus add to its style of “early Distillers cast-off”, but a simple, memorable hook and sheer energy and conviction behind the performance gives the track a great feel.
The best number, ‘Workers Mad Game’, has a slightly slower pace. Less punk, slightly more punk ‘n’ roll with a hint of rock, musically the band are at their strongest here, especially AL1’s rattling, high in the mix bass playing which provides a rock solid sound; a sound especially effective during the intro when set against Flo’s staccato guitar work. There’s a hint of the Parasites to be heard in places too. The only time The Black Stout miss the mark is on the retro rock number ‘Celebrate’, which is just a little too slow and shiny to make the best of Vaness’s ragged vocal style. The ringing guitars are pleasant enough and, once again, the backing vocals on the chorus provide something well rounded, but even so, it’s the kind of feel-good alt-rock track you’ll have heard performed better by a lot of other bands. Is it a skipper, though? Probably not.
On this EP, the song-writing is solid, the choruses are big, the production values are sharp and the riffs are sharper. The accented vocals can be a little hard to decipher in places, but not enough to stop The Black Stout’s debut being an enjoyable listen. Sure, you may have heard it all before, but that’s no reason not to check them out. Punk rock by numbers this may be, but The Black Stout’s enthusiasm, talent and self-belief really shines through.
You can listen or download the EP from the widget below.