DITCHES – The Taste EP

Formed in 2016, Ditches are a Swedish band who mix garage rock, surf rock and punk. Their 2018 release ‘1000 Elephants’ was mixed and mastered by Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke (both previously of The Marked Men) and featured five frenzied rockers that filled the gap left by Hives when they became more commercial.

This quickly recorded follow-up, if anything, is even noisier. The title track manages to present most of Ditches’ musical gifts in under two minutes. With guitars cranked, the riffs come at a punky pace and yet have a tone that delivers the finest in the noisier end of garage rock. Even with that topped by a heavily distorted vocal, it’s still possible to hear a faint power pop melody, with traces of that genres first wave of bands providing a genuine influence. If there’s any big difference between this and any previous Ditches work, though, it’s the use of increased bass. Instead of sounding like a semi-hollow garage band on a budget, this EP shows off a much fatter sound. In some ways the noise and speed comes at the expense of a more memorable hook, but it’s still a fun listen. Tightening up for something even punkier, ‘Tired Eyes’ works a repetitive riff that isn’t a million miles away from the earlier Hives material, but instead of just hacking out a standard garage punk arrangement quickly and with the minimum of fuss, Ditches show off a bit more musical prowess when choosing to underscore the thrashing pace with a busy and complex bassline. With a great final mix – especially for something so obviously DIY – the bass cuts through almost everything, dancing with a playful melody that seems to want to fight its way out of the noise. If you liked Ditches before, this track should be considered a must-hear.

The EP’s third track – and exclusive to those buying a vinyl edition – is a cover tune that will be familiar to many power pop fans. ‘We Don’t Get Along’ was a staple of The Go-Go’s earliest shows, back when Jane, Belinda and co were still clinging on to their punky roots. Without changing too much of the obvious melody, Ditches really roughs up the arrangement, making it one of the ultimate garage rock workouts. With distorted vocals playing an important role, it instantly has the feel of a live take, but as before, there’s just enough finesse in the performance to suggest Ditches are excellent players…and the energy in this recording provides a near-perfect example of their chosen style.

It might be very short, but ‘The Taste’ is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to their catalogue. If you’ve not heard Ditches before, chances are you’ll still find this EP a fantastic listen. It’s a brilliant collection filler for fans of punky garage rock noise, but shelling out the extra cash for the vinyl instead of digital is a necessity – whatever the difference in cost.

February 2019