Och aye: When rocking is Second Nature
Second Nature - The Primevals (Triple Wide)
Avoiding other people's reviews - at least until our own are done, dusted and posted - is standard modus operandi for most of us at the I-94 Bar. After all, it's important to approach this critical caper with an open mind, and comparisons are odious, aren't they?
It was by accident that the browser stumbled across a critique of the new-ish album, "Second nature", from Scotland's The Primevals by someone whose opinion carries a great deal of stock (Hi, Gus!) to find mentions of Lou Reed, Crazy Horse and The Gun Club. All of which are valid when you're swept up in the record's lyrically dark undertow.
While it's doubtful The Primevals are overly familiar with Australia's New Christs, but there's a shared intensity and instrumental similarity - especially with the prominence of keyboards on "Second Nature" - that surely rows this boat. Not that we haven't made this observation before.
As fans of the usual Detroit suspects, as well as the Cramps and The Captain, these Glaswegians have kicked around since the early '80s. They spent a time on New Rose Records - which was a French version of Australia's Citadel label - so they've done some mileage.
The playing and cohesion of the songs on "Second Nature" tells you as much. So do Michael Rooney's world-weary lyrics, speaking of troubled times and an unclear future. Cop admissions like: "The older I get, the less I know" and you'll get the drift. Tellingly, for a band of veterans, they manage to make it all sound urgent.
"We Die Young Here" opens proceedings on a confident note with guitarists Martin Rodger and Tom Rafferty trading razor sharp licks atop a bed of swirling organ. The powerful surge of "Best Days" and the brooding intensity of "All Or Nothing Thinking" are a formidable pigeon pair that show off contrasting sides, while the burbling Motown bass-line of "Powershake" plunges the band into bluesy garage-soul territory, a la a contemporary Scott Morgan.
Occasionally, The Primevals run up a blind alley - "Wanna Be Loved", for one, treads water - but this album's balance sheet ends up firmly in the black. "Hardcore" recalls the later-day Nomads with its emphatic, chunky chords and bold swagger. "Heavy Freak Out" is a fuzzy psychodrama, while the sullen "Now Is The Time" has a nasty psychedelic burr under its saddle.
"Wanton Destruction" is tough enough to make you want to play tiddly-winks with manhole covers, and the guitar-and-organ groove of closer "Reality" should have you reaching for the repeat switch.
Sixteen songs on one album is a band that either doesn't know when to shut up or has a lot to say. Happily, it's the latter. The Primevals occupy swampy, bluesy ground that's been staked out by scores of others bands but rarely this well. Score a copy here.