BRASS – No Soap Radio

by • July 6, 2017 • Album Reviews257

reviewed by Allan MacInnis

Given how simple punk rock allegedly is, there aren’t many bands that can come along that pull it off as confidently or successfully as BRASS does. No Soap Radio — the title comes from a surrealist anti-joke which has its own Wikipedia entry, singer Devon Motz informs me — is the second release from this Vancouver four-piece, reworking one song (the wonderfully-titled “Strut Punchin’”) from their 2014 debut  and presenting nine others for a lean and mean musical experience that clocks in all told under eighteen minutes (I was able to listen to it three times in a row on the way to work, and was happy to do so). Fast, tight, hooky, and shooting off glowing neon psych-guitar licks in every direction, courtesy Zak Garrett, BRASS manages to revel in its own self-destructive mayhem and comment sadly on it at the same time, with the band griping about their griping and poking fun at the very idea of having a revolution in the basement (which kinda rhymes with “aw man, aren’t you amazing?”). It’s the music of pent up energy, trapped and primal, that has no release otherwise, being made by people that are smart enough to know how meaningless it all is but hungry enough for meaning to be desperate to do it regardless. Liquor helps smooth over the contradictions; Motz (no friend to himself, he remarks on “Tiny Science People”) seems to work in a lyrical reference to his alcohol intake into every song, and didn’t seem particularly sober at a recent Rickshaw gig, opening for Bison, where he stage dove into the audience about as frequently as Jello Biafra or Iggy Pop used to (which, in case you don’t know, is “quite often”). The high points are probably “Strut Punchin’” and the slightly slower “Planes That Never Flew,” but there’s not a bad song, or a song delivered with less than full conviction, on here. And as befits a band whose song titles generally have nothing (or at least nothing obvious) to do with their lyrics — see, for instance, “Tiny Science People,” where no word in the title appears in the song, that I could discern — BRASS also has no brass elements in their lineup (though a guest sax does pop up in “Planes,” and I seem to recall horns in their live set when they played Burger Fest last year, though that was a while ago…).

So since it isn’t a reference to brass instruments, is the name — which is rendered in all caps on their album covers — an acronym or something? I fired the question off, via email, almost as soon as I got off the skytrain this morning. Devon wrote back at 9:30 AM, so I suspect he has a dayjob same as any of us: “BRASS is not an acronym for anything but do we stand for something? Fuck yes,” he wrote. “We stand for every single person’s right to let loose, feel good and be safe doing so.”

Sounds good to me.

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