Artist: The Red Cords
Album: Vile Guy
Released: November 2015
Hailing from Falmouth, The Red Cords label themselves garage punk –I agree with this. I also agree with the press release accompanying the recently released EP, Vile Guy, when it states that the whole thing could be an A-side. There are a couple of really good songs on here, but on second listen, it is just a reminder that maybe it is time people dropped the Ty Segall reference and tried something new.
“Opener Smog” sounds like a cover of a song from Wire’s Pink Flag, but unfortunately it is the first upsetting reminder that in 2016, we still aren’t trying something new and are complacent enough to accept that all bands that sound like other bands are good. It’s super fast and you can’t hear what he is saying, but it sounds good. It doesn’t go anywhere, but at least it sounds good right? That seems to be the whole vibe of Vile Guy. On my first listen, I had to then repeat listening to “Scratch it Off” three times in a row to get to grips with the sound. It’s vibrant in the same way The Reatards were, and has a super catchy chorus, but after three listens I had to accept that I wouldn’t know what they were singing about again – possibly a girl named Cathy?
From there, it went a little downhill for me, but not in that spectacular sense. I kept hoping for more and better, but The Red Cords did not deliver. “Toby Lebrone” and “Workout” sound like direct copies of Epsilons. Super fun sounding with clanging guitars with big solos, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. Nothing that sounded unique to Red Cords. In “Toby Lerone,” the singer screams that he “don’t want you,” which is great, but it just sounded like something to which I had chanted along, covered in sweat, at some garage gig in Brighton in 2013. Instrumental “Workout” didn’t use the lack of vocal to push new boundaries. Two lovely minutes, but I wouldn’t leave the house to go and see it live in a sweaty club in 2016.
“No Place” sounded great – like a more tuneful Mark E Smith on vocals. But, as the singer wailed, “I don’t know what I mean anyway,” I wanted to start an argument with him about how this generation has no place for apathy and not taking action or something. Mark E Smith is much clearer about what he means… if you ignore all the rambling. By the second chorus, it is back to tried and tested Ty Segall formulas– not sure what they want, not sure what they mean, and neither am I by this point. I had high hopes for the EP’s title song “Vile Guy,” especially with its title, and then all of a sudden I am listening to White Fence. I wanted to smack my head and give the band a shake into reality. There is nothing wrong with sounding like White Fence, and again, the song is good, but it is not better than good. Am I too old to appreciate this aimless, hip sound anymore? Is it bad that when they suggest there is “no plan” that the fact it is preceded by a “maybe” worries me? At the tempo change, they add some backing vocals and I want to sing along, but somewhere in the back of my mind I am wondering how Tim Presley feels about launching a wave of reverb across the globe instead.
The EP isn’t bad and it is certainly not terrible, but it just sounds like something I’ve heard a million times before. I doubt with songs that barely last two minutes they are looking to be the next voice of a generation, but I also doubt that when they started that they had high hopes to sound exactly like their idols. There is nothing particularly new or smart to The Red Cords. They play good songs, they play them well, and they obviously have a vision of where they want to be musically and as a band. They have the image, they have that youthful “I don’t know what is happening –ever, and I don’t know what I am doing – ever” thing going on, and in my late twenties, maybe that just doesn’t speak to me anymore. A lot of up and coming bands seem to just want to use the tried and tested formula of Ty Segall and his gang, but it means that there are very little innovative and exciting bands around. It’s all well and good to say that a band is that – “good”, but if they aren’t “great,” and if they aren’t speaking to this generation (one which I personally see to be extremely forward thinking, active and vocal), then what else is there left to music? Only aesthetics and faint buzz of a Thee Oh Sees splatter vinyl playing in the background.
By Frieda Strachan