TIME ON FIRE - The Earaches (Steelcage Records)
This is the third full length effort from Seattle’s Earaches, recorded and self produced in drummer Steve Jones’ own Big Sound Productions studio. They’ve been around for a while, plugging away determinedly through various line up changes, including one brought on by the untimely death of drummer Alan Wright in 2004. As far as I can gather, from pestering various Seattlite acquaintances, they are very well regarded in their hometown. I’m also told that this CD’s recent launch gig at the Funhouse nearly knocked the place off its foundations.

There’s no doubting the passion and energy on offer here. It’s plain to hear, in14 tracks of fairly basic, well played melodic rock. In case that sounds like I’m damning this with faint praise, let me rephrase it- this is a great slice of direct, fiery and fuss free rock that pushes all the right buttons in the right order. It’s fast, punchy and catchy as hell. Over the past week or so I’ve found it has that elusive quality whereby the louder and more often you play it the more you’ll like it. That’ll do.

There are some obvious starting points for this kind of thing- 60s punk, early Kinks and Stones, maybe the early Clash and I guess dirty rock in general. The Earaches are nifty hands at the old shouty verse/soaring chorus, too. A few tracks here are lightened with touches of harmonica & female vocals, just to keep things interesting. You will find no audible traces of Seattle’s most famous musical sons here though, unless you rate Hendrix and the Sonics above Nirvana and their assorted baggage in the history of North West rock.

Lyrically they seem to stick mainly to personal politics of the boy hates world, boy meets girl, boy seizes the moment kind of thing. There’s a strong expression of belief in the redeeming qualities of rock, but no great sweeping political manifestos or statements, over and above the legend “Start your own band! Participate!” plastered across the back cover in large letters.

The CD closes with the title track, which sounds to me like it was done live in the studio, and takes a step or two away from the format of pretty much everything that comes before. This could almost be a lost outtake of Roky Erickson rehearsing “Johanna” out in front of the Stooges. It’s the perfect, cryptic comedown of a closer, and one that bears repeated listening. The band themselves describe it the darkest thing on an album that moves from joy, through love, to suffering and death, and I’d buy that.

Now, though, I’m gonna have to go out and track down their previous CD, “get The Revolution Out Of Your Head”, which was produced by Tim Kerr, and no doubt kicks it out just as hard this one does. In the meantime, chalk up another winner to Steelcage
. - TJ Honeysuckle


FIST FIGHTS, HOT LOVE - The Earaches (Steel Cage Records)
The breaks don't often come to those who wait so it's gratifying to see hard work pay off for Seattle's Earaches, whose demo was originally reviewed here in February 2002 (when they were known as the Reckless Bastards). We're not pretending to be prescient or anything, but that original review said this was a band that needed to be more widely heard. The good folks at Philadelphia's Steel Cage Records have agreed. Not claiming any credit here but more power to 'em, we say.

Minimal polish has been applied (Johnny Sangster's original mix sounded pretty fine to these ears) to deliver 15 songs of raw 'n' rockin' punk. The mastering job obviously brings the guitars and bottom-end thump up a sonic grade. Musically, The Earaches don't do anything fancy but there's more than enough substance in this sort of time-honoured, meat-and-potatoes recipe to keep the hungriest I-94 Bar patron satisfied.

Not much we can add to the words below except two more: Buy It.

RECKLESS BASTARDS - Reckless Bastards (demo)
We don't normally give airtime to many demos (bit pointless if you patrons can't find a copy) but this brash-and-ballsy effort from Seattle's Reckless Bastards. Recorded in, oh, 10 minutes at the semi-legendary Egg Studios, this is garage punk that deserves to be more widely heard.

To quote from their bio, the Reckless Bastards formed following the demise of singer-guitarist August Henrich's band The Castros. August started jamming with a drummer and guitarist in the summer of '98. Recruiting bassist Joe Kilbourne, they began playing out. The current line-up cemented with the influx of guitarist Zach Sneider and ex-Castros drummer Alan Wright (of "Do the Pop" fanzine fame and who was their manager - shades of Tommy Ramone.) Supports to the likes of the Candysnatchers have followed and that sounds like it would have been a good match-up. Echoes of the Gaza Strippers here too (although a bit lighter on the top end sounds.)

The Reckless Bastards say their principles are the Three Fs - Fun, Fuzz and Fuck It If you Can't Take a Joke. It's an ethos summed up in the lyric of one of their songs "Misunderstood" (not the Saints song:) "Don't think I'm better, don't think I'm worse/I'm just trying to have fun before I ride in the hearse". Fun is the operative word in nine originals and two covers ("Strong Come On" by the Oblivians and the nicely twisted "She's the Girl" by the Screamers) that are driven by guitars and vocals that are suitably full-throated. Wright's a master of 4/4 and he and bassist Kilborne anchor it well. Of the self-penned songs, the Crampsy "I Used to be a Loser", the singalong "Don't Need Your Love" and "Misunderstood", with its busy guitars and fuzz bass, are stand-outs.

This should be on Estrus. You out there, Dave Crider? - The Barman