In the past few years garage rock has had a small resurgence with bands like Thee Oh Sees and Parquet Courts embracing the rough around the edges aesthetic. The genre itself essentially spawned from amateur musicians in the 60s aspiring to mimic the rock stars of the day by taking an almost do it yourself attitude; performing in their parent’s garages with rudimentary equipment and enthusiasm reserved only for amateurs.
SKATERS epitomise that garage rock ethic on latest LP Rock and Roll Bye Bye with guitarist Josh Hubbard explaining ‘the philosophy brought to this new project is similar to that of the ‘DIY’ ethos.’ Following 2014’s love letter to New York, Manhattan, the band severed the umbilical chord from previous major label, Warner, and embraced their independent spirit utilizing London-based distributor Believe Digital. Although not breaking any new ground, Rock and Roll Bye Bye plants saplings in SKATERS’ ever-growing forest of sun beaten garage rock gems.
Opener ‘Just Like Your Mother’ laments growing up to be just like your parents over a chord progression ripped straight from Pixies’ Trompe le Monde, not surprising considering the group’s affinity for the alt-rock pioneers. ‘Head On To Nowhere’ juxtaposes stadium-friendly choruses with lyrics that act as a treatise for the dissatisfied millennial, while the film noir narration of ‘Respect the Hustle’ touches on the bands previous affection for the Big Apple with drums that tower higher than any skyscraper, featuring a smoke draped horn solo harvested straight from one of the city’s jazz bars.
Occasionally Rock and Roll Bye Bye teeters on the edge of mediocrity with the uninspired lyrical content of the title track and forgettable ‘Song 19 (Revisted)’ struggling to be heard over the soaring string section of ‘Northern Soul’ and Madchester swagger of ‘Criminal’, and although arrangements are admirable, the slick production can feel vapid at times. Interesting to note that their move to independence sees the band ditching the low fidelity of their major label debut, a stylistic choice that would have given this record additional bite.
SKATERS may not possess the avant-garde musical complexity of Thee Oh Sees or Parquet Courts but that’s not what they are aiming for; they seek to craft fun, melodic garage rock tunes that slide in through your ear canal and refuse to leave. Although the organic sound that so embodies the genre is almost absent from Rock and Roll Bye Bye maybe it’ll encourage a new generation of dreamers to pick up their battered six strings and infuriate the neighbors from the comfort of their parent’s garages.
Written by: Matthew Barnard