RAY GUN – May The Bridges I Burn Light Your Way EP

Ray Gun cassetteSometimes a release appears and instantly achieves the status of cult classic. Such is the case with the UK’s Ray Gun, whose debut cassette is so brilliantly DIY. In fact, had this band been spawned from Brooklyn, this release would surely have been snapped up by the King Pizza label and Ray Gun would be going head to head with The Rizzos and The Fucktons, such is their retro charm and wanton lo-fi discord.

The title truck burns with a thick, overdriven sound, it’s riffing during the intro showing influence from Wipers and other early 80s garage bands such as U-Men, but as the number settles into a groove, it adopts a pleasingly fuzzy stance. Those guitars never abate, to the point where most of the vocals appear somewhere between small and almost inaudible, but the contrast between the dirty riff and almost Helen Love-ish tweeness of the voice is crucial to Ray Gun’s sound. Much heavier, ‘I’m There Right Now’ chugs menacingly, a simple riff and natural voice dominating over a thumping beat. As before, the contrast between large riff and smaller voice works well, but it’s as everything explodes into a shameless L7-inspired chorus hook that Ray Gun’s more direct approach hits home. This could be recorded at any point during the twenty years prior to release, such is the timeless nature of the lo-fi recording.

‘You Lose’ branches out a little, as a huge sample from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ collides into a thudding bass groove, making its entrance in a suitably ominous manner. As the pace increases, it’s clear the bass comes with a brilliantly sharp sound, eventually leading into a crashy, groove-led piece that combines spoken words, unrestrained yelps and a tough riff that borrows heavily from Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’. Although simple on the surface, a few echoing and reverbed guitars add some interesting extra layers throughout. Combining their usual lo-fi, grungy sounds with an almost punky pace, ‘Away We Goo’ brings more of a showcase for the drums and works a mean multi-layered vocal. Those who’ve pegged Ray Gun as sludgy might be surprised by the use of glockenspiel as lead instrument in the place where others may have dropped in a wobbly guitar solo, but it’s business as usual for the most part, though, as a fairly sugary vocal cuts through a wall of sound. Closing this all to short release, ‘Story Time’ throws out a classic garage rock riff, providing the basis for a manic spoken word performance. The guitars are often too loud to pick up on the finer points of the tale within, but it shows off a slightly different angle to the band’s boundless energies, occasionally reminiscent of an early Red Aunts track. It would perhaps have been more effective for the voice to be much higher in the mix, but then again, the claustrophobic nature of the recording gives things a real edginess.

Although not necessarily big on originality – let’s face it, though, what is? – ‘May The Bridges I Burn Light Your Way’ revisits 90s riot grrl/lo-fi in a superb way. The original cassette is already long out of print, but fans of the style should definitely grab a download; these five tracks are set to provide hours of listening pleasure.

[The whole EP can be streamed/downloaded via the widget below.]

December 2015