The poetry of rock n roll, it seems to me, is often forgotten.
Yeah, ok Dylan got the Nobel Prize and that, but honestly, when people talk about poetry they get rather sniffy.
I mean, yeah Rupert Blake can write “there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England” in The Soldier and its all very well, but did he ever write this? “It was cool until it wasn’t/ it was alright until it sucked”.
Or this: “she came into the bathroom stall, soaked in blood and alcohol/that’s how I knew she was the one for me.”
No, he didn’t.
The Slurs did, though, and brothers and sisters, The Slurs rule.
“The Shatter Sessions” is their debut record. It is 28 minutes of low-slung rock n roll of the most righteous variety.
Formed in Milwaukee in 2015, basically these four men are what I imagine a jam session between The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem and The Wildhearts would sound like. Only, though if there was a heavy rotation of The Stooges and Zeke on the stereo too.
Opener “Mercy” is probably enough to have you proclaiming this as one of the great recent debuts. There’s a moment when the solo kicks in and, honestly rock n roll has rarely sounded this dangerous since about 1991 and I was getting ready to go to my first gig.
“Do What You Want” (from where the line about “cool until it wasn’t” comes) is better still, and by its end, you’ll probably want to hand in your notice and form a rock band with some of your nearest and dearest, because good god it sounds like more fun than you’re having.
Back in the early 2000s I used to have EP’s shipped in from a record club I was in. Bands like B-Movie Heroes, The Yo-Yo’s and myriad more, and there is that DIY attitude about The Slurs too. “Trust No One” is full of lip-curl and a solo ripped out of “Johnny B. Goode” as Jason Waldon excels.
Frontman C.J Olsen, sounds like he was born to do this too. On “Fat Machine” – sort of like Dutch heroes Peter Pan Speedrock – he yells and spits, while on the furious, yet melodic, punk of “Defenseless”, he finds something of a growl.
“Blood And Alcohol” (first line, the one about bathroom stalls) is uniquely American punk rock, while “Info Age” is a damning indictment of modern life over something like The Professionals might do, while there is a nihilistic flavour to “Slash Me” that is tremendous fun.
“I Wanna Destroy You” brings the violence that has barely lurked beneath the surface of this right to the fore, while the drugged up “Something For Pain” isn’t even hiding its admiration for the first two Hold Steady records. There is a real thought that this might actually break into “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” at some point, but instead it opts for some more gritty punk.
Let’s be honest here. “The Shatter Sessions” is never breaking down any boundaries, but that was not and is not the point. This is four blokes getting together to play some music that they love and are absolutely gifted at.
So shout it, and shout it out loud. Say it clear. The Slurs are magnificent.