VENN RECORDS – 28 August 2020
It helps when a band is signed to a label you respect. Venn Records is owned by Gallows and their roster is nicely curated and a recommendation in itself. Venn Records are putting our Waco’s second album and it’s a great set of big tunes and energy. There is the sort of manic blast you get from Idles, allied to the sort of accessible musical quality you’d find on legendary pub rock label, Stiff Records.
The band are idealistic and passionate about change and inclusion. It shows in the lyrics and the power of delivery with some great punchy rock thrash (try Great White Wall Of Voodoo) that, at it’s best, recalls the sonic assault-meets-melody of The Damned or Motorhead. An optimism runs through the collection and a sense of solidarity and uplift. Jak Hutchcraft, the vocalist, talks about an increasing human connection and the emergence of a collective consciousness through the current pains of transformation. “Ultimately we’re moving towards a more accountable, a less corrupt, less individualistic and more harmonious future. It’s always not easy, but nobody said it would be.” Recorded in the second half of 2019, I wonder what they would have made of the current weirdness.
They might have lost their bassist (who died in 2018) but the replacement is up in the mix and an important part of the sound on tracks like Learn To Live Again. There is a lot of variety and I enjoyed Dark Before The Dawn purely for its combination of the approach of rock’s greatest failure, John Otway, and Idles. The overall approach is nicely paced when it isn’t thrashy, and has some sweet guitar licks.
The set is somehow warm and accessible at the same time as being full of fiery drive. The label might be modern punk but that’s just a badge to tell us the band mean it and they like a good shout sometimes. Drawing from all sorts of influences, the resulting mix hits all the bases (but maybe that’s because I remember the pop-punk explosion of 1979……)