The band Swampmeat features Dan Finnemore. Dan's warped sense of indie-pop might be familiar to a few of you thanks to his work in The Castillians, another band on PNKSLM, the home label of Swampmeat. This band's new album, Gin and Tonic, is out on Friday and it is, like so many releases on this fine label, a set of fine-if-skewed melodic rock jams that lodge themselves in a listener's brain almost instantly.
Finnemore, joined by T-Bird Jones, serves up languid takes on the blues tradition ("Stupid Kid") as well as riff-rockers that sound a whole like the less lyrical bits on a Tom Waits album ("Farmhouse Barn"). Elsewhere, there's a real sense of the vibe of the early Pixies stuff on tracks like "Crooked Heart", while a song like "Camp Heartbreak" suggest an odd combination of Arctic Monkeys and PJ Harvey. On the title cut, Swampmeat deliver a reverb-y rocker in the style of Eddie Cochran or something, the Fifties-tinged bits adding a lot of flavor to this sort of material. By the time we get to the rough "Girl, You Ain't Done It", a listener has been primed for this sort of vaguely roots-y updating of so many familiar rock styles. It's as if Swampmeat are somehow merging rockabilly and Nineties indie with a spirit of wild abandon, the debt to Surfer Rosa looming large here. Still, for all those references I just made, the duo make the material on Gin and Tonic seem original and fresh. Things are rollicking and ramshackle in spots but that's by design as Finnemore and Jones are getting at the core of the appeal of these tunes. And sometimes the result is something abrasive and sometimes it's something wildly catchy like "Right Here".
[Photo: Uncredited label promo pic]