Melbourne’s BLOWERS’ debut self-titled deepens the needle in the garage-punk skin. A bestial blitzkrieg of proto-garage sonic-noise hostility; a motive to make your body move in ways sex or/in an electric chair could never. By Ryan Walker.
Nothing is figurative for these sick minds. It’s an album that recoils at the sight of itself. From an unstoppable succession of unholy, smoking openers which scream until the skin encasing our feeble skeleton ruptures; be it Ripped, Cut Throat, or Too Old For This Shit; there is an indubitable rawness, a rough-around-the-edges-ness; a twitchy, adolescent rage; so fast, it might catch fire at any moment. A literal ripping to pieces, a literal cutting of the throat, literally too old for any of this shit until, arrestingly distressed, compelling bleeding along the edge, exhaustion turns to existential rage.
Through a series of forged friendships, Kit Convict, singer, and guitarist from the group, says he group developed through playing with “each other through playing in the same scene, so I floated the idea of us all teaming up for some garage punk project and no one said no, so here we are”.
The band recorded the album themselves then decided to drop the whole thing onto an old, 80s Tascam 4-track recorder; before finally being mixed and mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control. “We used it because it was there – I had my 80s Tascam 4-track lying round collecting dust, so we just pulled together what tracks we’d recorded in the rehearsal room”.
A time capsule, like it’s been found 1,000 years from now.
Or like it’s been passed through 1,000 palms; played and replayed until the tape fades to an artifact of dark ribbon; a plastic shell implosion trophy, malignantly mangled as chewed up by a rabid sphinx, and auto-destructs in a delightful explosion of hissing-feedback.
A decision that surely contributes to the erratic, rotten, discordant, muffled, and muzzled vibe, everlastingly burning from within the album’s body. “We just pulled together what tracks we’d recorded in the rehearsal room on our zoom recorder, or mobile phones and dumped them straight onto the 4-track”.
Feedback throughout as a means to overthrow the government; comic book atom bombs dropped on both Detroit and San Antonio. A botched insertion of a razor-sharp but now essentially blunted fist of instruments into the core of one’s heart. “Think that no-frills lo-fi approach basically sums up our sound and attitude too”.
Eat It Up crashes through the cranium and drags our ankles through the floor by way of x-ray Ramones-pop melodies. No-frills and flesh-blender menace of Meteors or Misfits, Eater, and Reatards, Wipers and Crime, pushed to their extremes, over an edge, and pulled back again to where they unwillingly belong. Brilliantly utilizing the trio-tipped, poison-prongs of vocal-assaults from each escaped member, bubbling to the surface above a demolition of instruments-as-buildings crumbling below. Done so with a sweet, selfless gesture of pouring a bucket of sawdust onto a puddle of sick.
How does the pandemic fit into this? Without the lockdown, the record might not have been made. But luckily, the band had already done some tracking. “We’re a laidback band with no ambition outside of making rough and loud garage punk sounds that suit ourselves and our weird sense of humour”. Weird, for sure. Wicked, doubly so.
Waste of a Man walks along with the deathly living with a firing squad stare and a swagger that could flatten entire cities. Bass guitars with rockets for bollocks and drums which when deployed, turn the buildings around them into landfills of bricks and mortar. It’s garage at its most garage. Punk at its most punk. Sweat stuck to the skin, rock ‘n’ roll with its ribcage exposed, a screwdriver in the tube-amp, ablaze and bruising before your very eyes. Endearingly disturbed and charmingly damaged.
Hitman heaves into action like Pussy Galore’s Handshake; and exits through the window in under two minutes. Its brutal, bulletproof groove, in addition to Chainsaws bulldozer-chug of maniacal melodicism, viciously slashes through a concrete sea of annoyances and obstacles. Chainsaws which when wielded correctly create rhythms and textures and melodies like one ligament and eating into another; in the name of sadomasochistic love; in the name of disturbing a certain, demented nest primitive instinct to unleash, to initiate, to birth this agitated outburst of joyous, blistering guitar-dissonance.
Archenemy vs. superhero goofy-grooves from the likes of No One Cares or the Tasmanian whirlwind of Exterminate sizzles with their own hellish, jungle-blooded wreckage. Otherworldly and nightmarish, cockroach-on-skewer blues. Animated fragments of glam-gore guitar riffs walk away with missing body parts, loud-as-megaton bass walking in the opposite direction, toward the disaster with a busted lip and a smile on its face; sharply spinning helicopter propeller drums, swirl in the distance, devouring the last known traces of life within reach.
A bombardment of bubbling voices and ecstatic-instruments, erode with every crack and crunch of the chords, melting into one demented, stampeding mess. At odds with each other, manic and panicky representatives of their own hysterical opinions, their own problems, victims of their own distinct personality disorders; suggesting Let’s Mutate by the Triggers or All I Want/Saturday Nite The Spits. Always howling, screaming, a lethal surge toward the same end, with similar means of reach: guitar, bass, drums, 4-track, Dan Electros rigged with sticks of dynamite, bottomless goblets of beer, the closest gradations of proximity to each other in the rehearsal room with battery-acid sunshine and petroleum breath.
Like a mutilated, maximum R’n’B Who, and loose like deranged shapes of the shamanistic Stooges; Hate That Shit and Can’t Get Started jump and jive in a straitjacket. Mutilated with a microphone dangling from the ceiling as a target for all those inner torments and tumultuous frustrations that eat a piece of us all a little bit more each passing day. Simplicity is the key to catalyse the purest feeling. Feelings that find their way to the surface by every detonator riff and beat and bassline synchronised to the speeds of a city ablaze.
Hate That… in particular yields, a dark snarl bassline with demon-teeth, totally wired and requires medical attention before being certified insane. Can’t Get…is Poison Idea covering a 60s freakbeat group with snot on their sleeves and shit on their shoes. Chewing on freshly-shot, still-hot shell casings in place of bubblegum. Gories giving Wire’s Chairs Missing a makeover with a powder keg of guitars and bass and crude-oil vocal cords. The cheek of it. The speed of it. Like all good garage should…not overthink, but just snap and attack and stop and snap again. Utterly dazzles.
And to not overthink, but simply: to let rip. It is the sole key to keeping the ignition firmly alive when creating such a raucous explosion of consistent, cacophony where everything collides and everything shatters and everything is reassembled before the next tunes fire up again.
But maybe I’m overthinking it. Garage this poignant doesn’t require intellect to attach legs to its body. But a handful of tunes can come in handy to see it survive the trials of life outside. “Guitar, bass, vocals, drums, and a bag of songs I guess. We just play for our own enjoyment really – we like the sound we’ve created playing together and we don’t overthink it, Kit informs me. Therefore it doesn’t take much to execute such a genre. But a definite sense of enjoyment, and a definite belief in the strength of the songs, is often key to see them breathe to their fullest capacity.
Blow begins with elephantine drums which crumble mountains to lego blocks. A ceaseless charge of everything at once. A conundrum of thunderous drums holds a gun up to the head of guitars and bass, tied together in the same chair, trying to escape their fate by unhinging their own wrists. A screeching solo like something unholy, scratching the back of something keeling over with ludicrous stupor. Fresh from the reset, post-leukotomy lullaby and contains a breakdown, juddering, and shuffling and disappears shortly after to its own zombie-dancefloor garage-disco smoke.
The choice of selecting Mikey Young from fellow Melbourne post-punkers Total Control is a natural one: “He’s worked on plenty of our previous releases as well as similar bands in the scene, and understands where we’re coming from – we just handed him the 4-track with everything on it and let him do his thing”.
Perhaps his thing, like their thing, is an attraction to the competently crippled. Things left stained. Things left sullied in the bloody soil. Things left unscrewed. Things left simple. So simple they enable further surprises to reach the forefront upon repeated, attentive listens. Fully-functional, almost flawless, falling to the floor with the eyeballs rolling back to the bones. To Kill the Kool. The sweltering heat of down under digging into the skin of the track; their hellish, bare-bones instrumentation charging towards us unchained from the skin, merely a saggy sack on the floor behind them.
It works a treat. A sick treat.
This is an album of purposeful devolution, unadulterated imperfection. But by so brilliantly executing a deliberate return to something so lo-fi, it accelerates into remarkable territories of wholesomeness. Cheated into thinking it’s broken, but all the pieces blindingly connect.
A studio album disguised as a demo, as a live experiment in captivating the audible equivalent of when humankind returns to the hunter-gatherer sections of nomadic history with guitars in place of obsidian-tipped spears sprawling through the air, merciless with murder-coloured eyes. It’s a reminder of how less-is-more and how things can always be pushed into new sonic terrains with their own philosophical values and underlying principles from the streets at work: the lycanthropic and radioactive, the playful and the brainless, the furious and the indifferent.
I blink and it’s almost over. All adrenalised with twisted, mad daddy cramps attack and my brain turns to mayonnaise. My shoulders must have been ripped (raw) from their sockets as I find my arms on the floor beside me. A smouldering heap of twitching limbs with blood spurting out like someone has decapitated a tank of turbocharged eels. If you wish to share this sensation, listen to the new Blowers album.
From the sick minds of –
Kit Convict, Andrew Porter, Shannon Aswell, Pip McMullan.
Album Launch Gig – Tote Bandroom w/ Cutters, 17th April 2021.
Spooky Records Bandcamp can be found here.
Chaputa! Records can be found here.
Ryan Walker is a writer from Bolton. His archive can be found online here.