Sometimes follow up albums can be tricky. I don’t mean for the bands, who gives a shit about them. They are just performing monkeys prodded and poked to dance and bang things for our pleasure. No, the difficulty is for us as listeners. When you fall in love so totally with an album as I did with “Don’t Hear it……. Fear It!” the next offering is always approached with much trepidation. In fact the first time I heard “Check ‘EM…..” I was picking bum nuggets off my metaphorical strawberries. “This is not “death/ Red Admiral etc”. What a plonker that “me” was. This album has grown on me like a luscious beard- now I revel in it.
From the opener ‘Do It Now!’ it is apparent that TASCS have lost none of their lo-fi bluesy swagger and are not cursed with the hipster tag of label mates Uncle Acid. Do It Now is a biker booted stomp through Groundhogs territory . 2 Tonne F*ckboot (their asterisk not mine) continues the groove.
‘Captain Merriweather’ slows things down and carries a Syd Barret vibe in its psyche leanings. This band like choruses and Captain M has a good un, if downbeat. This is given a kick in the goolies by a wig out section which segues into an Ennio Morricone esque break before kicking off again.
‘Running from Home’ brings the groooooove. Unfortunately this is upset a little by a rather flat vocal line. ‘Happiness Begins’ goes full throttle from the get go. This is the sort of track that needs to be played from behind chicken wire whilst amped up bikers hurl beer bottles stage wards.
Once my breath was back and I picked up the shards of glass out of my beard it was time for “Shaker Your Head” The lyrics here are rhyming dictionary cliché but who gives a rodents bottom. This kind of beer soaked blues rock is a cornerstone of British Rock and Roll and has been since the days of John Mayall et al. The Admiral channel the past and sprinkle it with 21st Century crackling space dust.
“Don’t Hear it …..fear it” was the title of the last album but it gets its own track here. This has a marbling of Wilko Johnson running through it . The urgency of spiky pub rock singing about black eyed crones.
The band channel a very different vibe to the other retro rockers pouring out of Europe at the mo. There is no Sabbath worship or Coven/Black Widow/Hammer Horror business. Only Wales’ Henry’s Funeral Shoe come close when it comes to groove laden blues rock.
“Bulletproof” trundles along with a (whisper it) Maiden gallop before the album’s stand out track kicks in.
“The Thicker the Better” Why is it so great? You know what, I can’t say. It just has the right balance of romp and groove that wobbles my blancmange.
“Late Night Mornings” is a hairy blues groove with a tasty guitar line. This brings the journey to an end and I have found that the South coast trio have yet again delivered the goods.
(8.5/10 Matt Mason)