It is proudly raw, it is old school DIY, and similarly bullish in nature but most of all though Under The Mortar, the new EP from US musician Louis Ramos is an unapologetically enjoyable and abrasing, not forgetting bracing proposition. In many ways there is no surprise at the potency of the release, as Ramos has frequently lit our and numerous other’s ears and imaginations through his band The Amputees. The New York hailing band he created and drives, has persistently offered magnetic slices of inventive garage punk, whilst his songs more often than not have sculpted a tenacious mix of infectiousness and intrusive voracity, generally coloured by his own guitar enterprise. Now he has done it again, though in a primal offering which is his most intensive challenge on the listener yet but equally one of the most fascinating.
Consisting of eight songs which delve into various strains of punk and fierce rock, Under The Mortar opens with its title track and swiftly has electronic rhythms jabbing ears and attention into action before the sonic coaxing of the guitars catch melodically alight. There is a spiciness to the emerging acidic infectiousness and restrained but magnetic grooving which emerges within the song and vocally Ramos uses a warm texture in his delivery which tempers and works with the more abrasive textures well. Like a noise rock interpretation of The Pixies with an underlying pop punk catchiness, the song provides a strong and enjoyable start to the release.
The following Killing Spree is simply one minute and a handful of seconds of unbridled punk rock, a sound closer to Ramos’ exploits with The Amputees and virulently addictive. It is also a potent lyrical swipe which impacts as potently as the busy fury of sound. Its brief but pungent ferocity pushes the EP up another step which is backed by the outstanding Cruel Lip. Think Melvins and Sonic Youth in an industrial sonic blender and you get a sense of the excellent song. Melodically seductive at certain moments and psychotically warped in other times, the track hits the sweet spot whilst ‘punishing’ agreeable senses with its sonic rabidity.
It is fair to say that Get Off My Dick is not as romantic as it sounds, but is a hostile threat of defiance and guitar sculpted ravishment. The track though never goes for the jugular, its gait even paced yet confronting as the fingers of Ramos lure out some insidiously appealing and scarring hooks and sounds from his guitar. It is also another offering which has ears and thoughts absorbed before handing its hold over to the furious protagonist that is Trepanation Nation. Hardcore seeded in many ways, the song brawls with and bawls at the senses and thoughts, but again has a certain reign on its assault compared to the earlier Killing Spree.
The senses get a real testing with Gods And Devils, a song where Ramos vocally croons with impressive radiance but within a sonically tempestuous smog of sound. The guitar offers a raw misting which smothers ears and psyche yet within its caustic touch the vocals and a melodic expression simply blossom. It is an intriguing and compelling offering, like Frank Black engulfed in a harsh winter of sound. Its striking blend of textures is somewhat emulated in the more hard/classic rock balladry of Trophies. It does not have the same immediate potency as its predecessor but over time grows to become another enthralling part of Under The Mortar.
The closing Little Jimmy is an acoustic serenade with a Bolan-esque lure to the vocals and provocative lyrics looking at amongst things, the social apathy to war. The less intensive track musically on the release, it makes up for it emotionally and makes a great end to an attention grabbing encounter.
Certainly Under The Mortar will not make a comfortable playmate for some but for uncompromising and unashamedly imposing punk/rock ‘n’ roll which makes additional demands, it is easy to recommend checking out. The EP takes us back to the days of unpolished, bedroom recorded punk demos; just one more reason to take a punt on Louis Ramos.
Under The Mortar is available now @ http://louisramos.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-mortar
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