DUCK & COVER – Attention Economy EP

  • With its mix of classic hard rock and an almost bar-room trash aesthetic, Duck & Cover’s 2018 release ‘Rob Them Blind’ was fuelled by a superb confidence. Driven by the kind of high octane riffs that would have suited both Duff McKagan and the early years of Soul Asylum alike, its eight songs delivered highly in terms of toughness and retro cool. It wasn’t widely noticed by the world at large – despite the Rum Bar Records label doing their best via a free download of the excellent ‘Live It Up’ – but it gained praise from almost everyone who happened to stumble upon it at the time. The three song EP ‘Two Shots’ followed in 2020 and, if anything, was even better thanks to an even stronger sense of urgency supplied by more of a melodic punk feel. Between them, these two DIY releases really suggested that, despite their home city of Boston being almost overrun by great bands, Duck & Cover had something special.

2022’s ‘Attention Economy’ EP is every bit as sharp. There are a few places where the production feels a little more raw, but this in no way impacts on the quality of the songs. ‘Memento Mori’ pretty much ups the ante in terms of the band’s punky/sleazy side, thanks to a sneering vocal reminiscent of early works by Jesse Malin, whilst the crunchy riffs bring the usual mix of late 80s hard rock with immediate effect. It takes all of a verse before Duck & Cover have genuinely hit their stride and reeled you in. Beneath the fuzzy guitars, a solid bass line anchors the great riff, further steering this opening track to greatness, but it’s the arrival of a hugely melodic lead guitar break that makes the performance. It seems particularly pivotal in the way it manages to create a bridge between the band’s sense of grit and melody, but it provides an important link back to their love of classic rock and grubby punk moods, with Daniel Sussman displaying a great tone throughout.

The title track takes a small detour into a punchy sound that blends early Soul Asylum with traces of Thin Lizzy. There’s something about the deeper vocal that seems to carry the ghosts of an old Lynott narrative and this is very much amplified by a riff that dances dangerously close to the band’s ‘Renegade’ era, complete with brief twin lead. However, at its heart, everything is still recognisable as Duck & Cover in top form. The darker side of Chris Wissmuller’s voice provides a superb counterpart to the tune’s late 70s mood; the repetitive vocal melody creates an impressive hook even when the lyrics don’t especially stick, and looking at the whole package, these three minutes push further towards that perfect Duck & Cover recording. Last up, ‘You Wreck Me’ opens with the kind of riff that’d make you believe the band have resurrected their AC/DC-like swagger from the past, but once Chris starts to sing, the penny drops. This is a great, hard rock infused cover of the Tom Petty song (originally from the essential ‘Wildflowers’ LP) and despite clinging onto Petty’s core melody, a pumping Cliff Williams-like bass, a lead guitar with a howling edge drenched in feedback, and a suitable amount of distortion really help it to fit more naturally with the band’s self penned tunes. In some ways, they’ve just amped up the original arrangement, but that’s all it needed for them to deliver a genuine banger and make the tune their own.

In three songs and barely ten minutes, Duck & Cover hit hard and fast, making this comeback EP sound surprisingly direct. Its all round trashy rock appeal has the potential to grab new listeners as well as thrill the old fans, and the presence of a good cover tune certainly won’t hurt in terms of potentially bringing in a few new ears along the way. Presenting a band that clearly still have a strong vitality and love of for what they do, this EP is one to enjoy with the volume cranked and with no inhibitions. In terms of unpretentious, good time rock, the ‘Attention Economy’ EP scores pretty highly all round.

Visit the Duck & Cover Bandcamp page here.

February 2021