Muskets – Chew (No Sleep Records)
If a cosmic deity modeled a band of Dinosaur Pile-Up and The Xcerts, they’d come up with Muskets. That’s not to say they’re heavenly or god-like in their qualities, rather it’s an indication of their ridiculous ability to retain a 90s grunge edge that’s been sharpened on 2000s rock.
The revival of the genre might have been cut short before it could become mainstream again, but there are still bands who do it and do it well – and Chew deserves to be placed on a pedestal to show how a debut release can be modern and gloriously nostalgic at the same time.
With a voice that’s a mixture of lazy draw and rock band intensity, vocalist and guitarist Alex Cheung is perfectly suited to be leading the new wave of grunge artists and maybe even challenge the existing ones.
Muskets show they can do attention seeking guitar riffs as well as troubled musician vocals on songs like Breathing and Frankie Stable, which embrace a fast paced, sweat your rig off method of song production. These are the type of tracks that will get disillusioned fans excited about rock again and they’re the pick of the album.
The band name comes from the book Catcher in the Rye, and is a reference to Holden Caulfield’s repeated use of the phrase ‘chew the fat’. Thus, their debut album has come to symbolize a collection of songs that discuss the highs and lows that come with trying to get a band off the ground.
Album opener Pond Life is a short, sharp shock of a song at just over two minutes long – while 17 Years has a post-punk IDLES vibe to the opening few seconds that quickly dissipates under the anguished draw of Cheung.
On an album like this you’re never going to get any shocks, but the band vary up their songs with skill and Decay turns the pace down slightly in a Heart Shaped Box kinda way while You’re So Cool smashes it out the park with an American Hi-Fi inspired, booming guitar riff.
If living in a squater-ish party house and writing music isn’t the living embodiment of grunge, I don’t know what is. It’s almost like Chew was conceived, written and produced in the perfect environment for it and if living like that is what it takes to make an album like this I’d say this – never move out.