PSYCH WARD - The Urges (Off the Hip/Screaming Apple)
Psst. Here's a secret. My fervent hope is that this bunch of Dublin garage hounds achieve global dominance, sell five million albums and buy houses in the Caribbean, if only to put the nail in the coffin that Ireland has only produced two bands of worth, U-Spew and the Bumtown Prats. Fuck Bono and the self important horse he rode in on.
Now that's off the chest how about we tell you why The Urges are rowing my boat this week? Yeah, I know fuzz-and-Farfisa bands are a dollar a dozen once you look outside the confines of megastores and suburban malls and there's nothing much new in "Psych Ward" when you boil it down to tin tacks, but when a '60s derived band does their thing well AND write great songs, there's a reason to dig them. And there's the big difference between The Urges and any number of second-tier copyists. These are terrific tunes.
The Urges surfaced in 2004 and have been steadily building a rep based on festival appearances through Europe and supports to the likes of Billy Childish, The Buzzcocks, Babyshambles and Paul Weller. More meaningfully and perhaps on smaller stages, they've warmed up audiences for The Pretty Things and the Chesterfield Kings. They've even enjoyed some chart action in Ireland with a single, "(Around) & Around Again." Presumably that was indie chart action, but we live in hope that there is a country where they play Righteous Music on the broader airwaves.
The Urges' sound puts me in mind of the late, great Strollers or The Stomachmouths, and there's an obvious debt to The Music Machine. Organ's prominent on most songs and singer Jim Walters can scream or croon with the best of them (shades of the Lime Spiders' Mick Blood in the former department.) Glenn Lee Flynn's fuzz work is inventive and dynamic and there's a supple engine room operating. In other words, all the correect musical elements are there.
"Psych Ward" is a nice mix stylistically with the trippy ("The Urges Theme", and the Spanish-tinged "Curse It All") mixing it with straight-ahead rockers ("You're Gonna Find Out", "Read The Signs"), a crypt rocker near instrumental ("Salvaje") and the odd downbeat reflective moment ("The 13th Floor") that takes a detour at the end. There are 11 tunes and none is a waste of time. How many albums can you say that about these days?
So there you go. Another '60s punk rocker but one that's a notch above the competition. If you're into the Seeds or The Music Machine you'll take to it. There are no new boundaries being pushed or walls being broken down but sometimes that doesn't matter much. Remember, the LP is on Screaming Apple out of Germany and the CD on Off the Hip in Australia. – The Barman
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