When Gramma Vendetta released their ‘Proof of Concept’ EP in 2018, the world was a very different place. Their punchy blues/garage/stoner metal hybrid sound was squarely about entertainment. After recording began on a follow up, a global pandemic forced everything into shutdown and – like everyone else – the band found themselves with a different set of priorities. The planned album became a stop-gap EP and the lockdown situation also gave them lyric inspiration, so, in many ways, their 2020 release ended up being a very different beast.
“[It] touches on the importance of words, their meaning and their power. The lyrics reflect on how words can be used to comfort, empower and encourage. But it also reflects on how they can be used to agitate, hurt and destroy,” says The Phoenix Within’s frontman Omar Feliciano of the band’s new single ‘Tenfold’.
Tackling the themes of using words to build relationships and bridges instead of using them to hurt, ‘Tenfold’ is already a powerful statement, regardless of the music. The track’s arrangement, luckily, has almost an equal power with a set of riffs that very much hark back to the 90s emo movement – specifically bands like Sense Field and Shift – which, combined with a thoughtful vocal performance, results in a fantastic three minute alt-rock tune that should appeal to fans of 90s sounds as well as lovers of bands like Fall Out Boy.
What would happen if you took passages from The Bible and applied them to some of the slowest and heaviest sludge metal riffs ever? Chances are, you’d end up with something so sacriligious, it’d stir up entire American States, amuse teenagers supposedly “going through a phase” and confound a lot of other people…
With the decade coming towards its end, 1988 was a genuine mixed bag. Pet Shop Boys released some of their best ever work; Elton John’s ‘Reg Strikes Back’ album marked somewhat of a comeback for the megastar after five years of intermittently enjoyable material and Jane Wiedlin hit the UK singles chart with ‘Rush Hour’, arguably one of the decade’s greatest pop singles.
Boston’s Dirty Truckers have never been shy of showing a cheeky side and applying that to some good old-fashioned, trashy riffs. This has rarely been offered in such a direct way as on ‘Little Mine’, the lead single from their 2020 compilation disc ‘Second Dose’. It’s barely two lines in before frontman Tom Baker sings of someone in their “birthday suit” before applying that image to “a twinkle in your eye”. Granted, it’s merely saucy and certainly not on the same level as David Coverdale singing about leg-spreading less than a minute into the Whitesnake debut LP from ’78, but there’s something about this sexual memory that sort of sets the trashy tone for the following thirty minutes. In terms of music, there’s plenty within this tune’s Slim Dunlap meets Keef Richards schtick. If anything, its combination of relentless pace and unfussy backing vocals makes everyone sound more energised than before: the riffs are ballsy; the lead vocals husky…and combined, the bar-room sound really flies. It sounds so much like classic Truckers, even a one line hook can’t hold it back. Sliding into ‘Hotel Highway View’ the disc effectively opens with a massive one-two suckerpunch. A number that highlights John Brookhouse’s sleazy guitar, the band deliver a three minute musical love letter to Johnny Thunders. It’s bread and butter stuff for them, but sounds great. If you love that grubby rock ‘n’ roll style, you’ll definitely find yourself being swept along by the band’s energy.