While there’s definitely a shagginess that’s pervasive to the new wave of the Aussie underground, there has also long been drippings of post-punk smudging the sidewalks of OZ. Melbourne’s Snakes don’t quite embrace the bleak bludgeon of, say, NUN, Naked on The Vague, or Slug Guts, but they’re definitely hanging just around the other side of the dumpster from their more nihilistic takes. The band embraces a kind of chaotic sleaze that comes crawling through the speakers on their debut for Anti-Fade. Their ethos isn’t built on precision and puncture-perfect geometry like so many of their ‘70s forbears. Perfection isn’t The Snakes’ style. The Snakes are here to brood, break strings, chew noise and spit sand in the faces of the punks, goths, and the pop-preeners alike.
On their eponymous debut the band is channeling the chaotic careen of ‘70s new York – flailing against the walls in cheap ripped cotton like Richard Hell, but adding in some sour-stomach organ riffs as if they’d recruited Frank Rodriquez right out of The Mysterians, then traveled West and packed him down into Mabuhay Gardens to back members of The Germs and Pink Section. Before they can congeal in that mold, the band slides back East to pick up sneered seances from PiL, and Wire’s dalliances with pop and noise. The record is short and sharp, on the edge of genres, and never fully aligning itself with a sound for too long. It whips by so quickly that you could crane the neck trying to take it in, but the minute it clicks to a close the damage it divvies is sizeable. A lot about the record feels dashed off, but punk and its lineage into starker strains never promised a plan, only a reaction. That’s just what slithers out of the speakers with Snakes on the deck.
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