In The Red unleashes the vinyl debut from NYC psych trio Skull Practitioners and it’s as scathing an introduction to the band as you could hope for. Though its not the band’s official first release, they issued a limited cassette in 2014, this is the fist wide-scale release for the trio fronted by Jason Victor. Victor’s currently been serving as the current lead guitarist for a reformed Dream Syndicate (2012-pres), but this is a decidedly more fang-toothed animal than his releases with the Syndicate. Eschewing any love for knotted wordplay, jangles, or sunny melodies. Victor, along with Kenneth Levine and Alex Baker spike the adrenaline, push the tempos, and drive their vision of punk through the hull-heated, psycho-twang swagger that set Flesh Eaters loose on the public and gave Gun Club heroic status among collectors for decades.
The four songs here give the band a lot to chew on, especially the echo-flailed “The Beacon,” a direct descendant of the Flesh Eaters / Kid Congo Powers school of leathered punk flash if there ever was one. The EP serves as an appetizer for a full-length on In The Red to come soon, but its pretty satisfying on its own. Bookended by instrumentals, the EP creates a nice little arc of attack. The title track frizzles some ozone and leaves an acrid atmosphere rattling around the room that’s picked up by the chewed tin and grease-skeeved vocal tracks “Grey No More” and the aforementioned hip-crusher “The Beacon.” The EP slides out on the surf froth of “Miami” leaving the listener wanting more, which is pretty much the point. Keep an ear out for that long player. I’ll be interested to see how they keep the pace up for a full battery of tracks.
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