Not much misery in this hang
The Misery Hang - The Searchin’ Destroyers (Gimme Some Skin Records)
There’s a tiny clue to its sound in the band name but you’d be a fool to collar these Destroyers as just another bunch of would-be world’s forgotten boys (plus a girl.) There are many more varied and subtle reference points on this Athens, Georgia, band’s debut album than there are scars on His Igness’s leathery hide.
Essentially a mid-life outlet for hazmat technician-turned-keyboardist Drew Finn, The Searchin’ Destroyers aspired to play “psychedelic garage pop punk Tejano spaghetti western surf soul rock music” when they formed three yeasr ago. If that mission statement takes a minute getting your head around, you’re not Tom Hanks on a desert island with only a mute volleyball for company.
It was at the urging of late Woggles guitarist Jeff Walls that Finn teamed with some like-minded players and a rookie singer in Caroline Barfield to form the band there years ago. Finn is a Michigan old boy with a healthy appreciation for the Holy Trinity (Stooges, MC5 and Radio Birdman), but it’s the energy of those bands, rather than than any agitprop angst or Dadaist reductionism, that remains intact.
The Searching’ Destroyers’ music is mostly wrapped up in a big ball of British Invasion, girl group and folk pop sweetness. Much of that is down to the distinctive vocal of Ms Barfield and guitarist Kevin Sweeney’s clean tones - both heard to great effect on the Morricone-on-a-longboard “When The Surf Is Up”.
“RCA” borrows the James Brown-meets-the-Ventures bass intro of Birdman's “Murder City Nights”, while reverb-laden twang festival “Solar Powered Jet” could have slotted into a mid-‘80s college radio playlist sandwiched between the Go Gos and pre-commercially successful B-52s.
The churning “Hepa Machine” employs fuzz to good and dirty effect and opener “We’re Going’ In” alludes to some Tek-style energising with Debbie Harry guesting behind the mic, while “I’d Like To Have Seen New Mexico” is pure garage pop that’s coincidentally (or not) close to the swinging garage pop-rock that The Woggles still presumably play.
You can braid my hair and call me Owsley if the lilting “You Never Believed Me” isn’t something right out of San Francisco circa 1968. Finn’s breezy keys and a swanky bass-line propels the bouncy pop of “Stos”, while “Tomorrow Could Be a Sunny Day” follows in the footsteps of Brisbane’s GoBetweens.
Thy were probably stark raving mad releasing their album in June 2020 in the middle of COVID-19 AND an US election year, but the wonders of Bandcamp mean you can grab a copy with just a few clicks of a mouse and not have to wear a mask at a launch gig. Cmon, get happy.