Friday, July 16, 2010

"They are a band you put on and get stupid to."

From JJ Koczan’s excellent music blog The Obelisk -

Time-wise, it’s a short blip of a release, but the new split 7” single between Port Orchard, Washington, rock resurrectionists Stone Axe and green-thumbed Brooklyn, New York, stoner punkers Mighty High has much more to give the listener than its seven-plus minutes would indicate. The offering, released by Ripple Music, brings together two seemingly disparate bands with two very different missions, who nonetheless work well in a row because listening to each one serves so specific a purpose. It’s short, but for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced either, Metal Damage/Don’t Panic it’s Organic is a great way to be introduced to two bands who most definitely are worth your time.

And if you have heard either band before now, you don’t need me to tell you whose song is “Metal Damage” and whose is “Don’t Panic it’s Organic.”

Present for Stone Axe on “Metal Damage” is the core duo of multi-instrumentalist and recent Obelisk interviewee T. Dallas Reed and vocalist Dru Brinkerhoff. To compare the track to Stone Axe’s recent full-length, Stone Axe II, “Metal Damage” is heavier in a traditional sense and, as you might guess, pretty metal. One of the best parts of listening to Stone Axe is picking out the influences on display – in that way they’re very much a band for music nerds – and here they pair Judas Priest’s driving rhythms and Holy Diver-era Dio riffing with an early Ozzy Osbourne (think Bob Daisley) bass line that’s just killer throughout the short, straightforward 3:41 song. Brinkerhoff does the lion’s share of tying “Metal Damage” to Stone Axe’s prior output – he’s a rock vocalist here almost in spite of himself – and the song in no way sounds flat for having just the two of them recording it. As ever with Reed’s recordings, you get a full band sound whether or not you get a full band.

If one listens to Stone Axe to hear the roots of rock, then Mighty High were born and bred for sheer enjoyment. They are not a band you think about, not a band you sit and pick apart. They are a band you put on and get stupid to. As on their last single, Mighty High Drops a Deuce, and on their In Drug City, on “Don’t Panic it’s Organic,” they offer unbridled, immature fun. I never really understood why they cited Grand Funk Railroad as an influence next to bands like The Stooges and Black Flag, but listening to their half of Metal Damage/Don’t Panic it’s Organic, I think I finally get it. There are some sonic commonalities, okay, but more than that, it’s the unabashed, unashamed joy Mighty High have in their playing that links the two bands, vocalist/guitarist Woody High managing not to laugh as he delivers what he has to know are silly lyrics while guitarist Kevin Overdose, (new) bassist Labatts Santoro and drummer Jesse D’Stills jam furiously behind. If Mighty High have invented a genre, let it be known as “reckless rock.”

Like I said, two very different bands, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company well enough on Metal Damage/Don’t Panic it’s Organic, and listening to the tracks, I find I’m enjoying their enjoyment. Neither band asks much of their listeners, neither band comes even close to anything pretentious in their music, and both seem thrilled at the chance to contribute a catchy-as-hell track to this split. Maybe they’re not so different after all.

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