Monday, March 12, 2018

Psychoactive: A Quick Review Of The New Album From Hot Snakes (ex-Drive Like Jehu)

The new album from Hot Snakes, Jericho Sirens, out on Friday via Sub Pop, is such an incendiary slab of rawk one can only wonder why other bands don't have even a fraction of this level of energy. A ferocious blend of post-hardcore and garage rock, the songs on this record, the band's first together in 14 years, soar past in a haze of rage and joy, the hooks bigger than life, and the vocals screeches as the ship goes down.

"I Need A Doctor" merges a kind of amped-up grunge attack of the sort that singer-guitarists Rich Froberg and John Reis once whipped up regularly in Drive Like Jehu with a more modern spin on the brand of rough Nuggets-inspired indie favored by seemingly lots of acts these days, while the more supple "Six Wave Hold-Down" offers a pummeling rhythmic assault over choppy guitar hooks. Elsewhere, the title cut slows things down ever so slightly with a near-blues-y bit of business, while the pulsing "Death Camp Fantasy" is a knife in the gut and a hammer on the head. This is, quite simply, some of the first music that has felt genuinely dangerous to me in ages, the brutality of the hooks something to be a bit amazed at, with "Psychoactive" swirling right up to the edge of the void, even as "Death Doula" echoes early releases from both The Birthday Party and Mudhoney.

If Hot Snakes offer anything here, it's the simple, glorious release of pure rock-and-roll. There's more legit adrenaline here than in countless other so-called rock releases, and an astute listener of my age listens to this and recalls an era when bands like Drive Like Jehu and others could unleash sonic attacks that seemed transgressive and wrong, buckets of bad intent dripping off the vinyl or cassette. Jericho Sirens is a welcomed reminder that alternative rock is meant to be an alternative to the ordinary and pedestrian. The tunes here on Jericho Sirens raise the hair on the arm, make a listener a trifle nervous, and encourage the kind of screaming of the lyrics that is likely to make amateurs playing this at home, or in their cars, lose their voices and become hoarse.

It's been 14 years since we've been lucky enough to get some music from Hot Snakes. So thank whatever god makes your knees bend for Jericho Sirens, an unholy obliteration of all that you hold dear!

Jericho Sirens by Hot Snakes is out on Friday via Sub Pop.

More details on Hot Snakes via the band's official Facebook page.

[Photo: Hot Snakes]