The scream of feedback and barrage of overdriven guitars and compressed drums which herald the start of ‘Graceland’, The Steve Adamyk Band’s latest album, could be enough to put off any listener unaccustomed to the harsh slap with which any good punk album needs to begin.
Living up to their self professed image of ‘obnoxious, rowdy, kids’, the band have produced yet another fast-paced half an hour of lo-fi, fuzzy, punk rock. Crafted from the ashes of Million Dead Marxists and Sedatives they have churned out 5 albums since their inception in 2010. 2016’s release ‘Graceland’ has seen the band enter the studio with engineer Adrian Popivici, the result being their most polished sounding album to date.
The aggressive, driven sound of this album places it firmly in the punk genre; harkening back to 70’s punk outfits such as The Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers. They really make the sound their own however, with the abundant use of catchy synth melody lines. This is utilized perfectly on the track ‘Carry on’, which is pushed to new heights during the solo section with the introduction of the warbly synth lead. This holds something much firmer than the wash of distorted guitars with which the listener is attacked for a majority of the album and the contrast is refreshing. Towards the end of the track the synth returns to provide a pleasing counterpoint to the vocal melody.
The Steve Adamyk band are in the business of writing earworms and ‘Graceland’ is no different in that concern. The album is peppered with guitar licks and vocal hooks that end up etched onto the back of your brain until the next time Brittany Spears comes on the radio. The track ‘Broken Arms’ is a perfect demonstration of this. Bursting forth with a catchy guitar riff that is repeated throughout the track, Steve Adamyk is joined by guest vocalist Colleen Green for the repeated chorus hook. The overdrive is then turned up to 11 for a fuzz-heavy guitar solo that expands upon ideas established in the guitar line earlier in the song.
Though fitting for the genre, a criticism of this album might be the relentless pace that is held throughout the entirety of the production. The combination of fast tempos, distorted guitars and short (sub 3 minute) songs leaves little space to breathe and may not be to everyone’s taste. That being said, there is a slight let-up courtesy of the closing track of the album “She’s On My Mind”. The guitar tone is rolled back slightly, the tempo lowered just a touch and the warbly synth is back again for some more interesting lead work.
In summary, ‘Graceland’ is a worthwhile listen from start to finish and a necessity for anyone with a passion for punk rock. It’s gritty, fun and rewarding for those willing to stick with it through to the end.
‘Graceland’ is out now via Dirtnap Records.
This Steve Adamyk Band article was written by Adam McGuire, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : https://steveadamykband.files.wordpress.com