After the impressive presence and success of their previous EP, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Amputees, there was keen anticipation to hear where garage punks The Amputees took their new step in sound next. News of the band’s first album sounded like that eagerness was to be fed. That want is still waiting as Kitty Magick is a collection of previously unreleased tracks primarily written and recorded in a period across 2011-2012 but all we can say is thank you to the New York City septet and its founder/songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Louis Ramos because the album is one thickly enjoyable and rousing slab of punk ‘n’ roll. It would have been criminal if its contents had never seen the light of day from a band which has simply been creating high grade punk rock from day one.
Presumably the tracks within Kitty Magick were created and recorded around the time of the band’s strongly praised debut EP Commence The Slaughter, a release which instantly made the band one of the most exciting and potent forces on the punk underground scene. Through The Scream EP and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Amputees, the band’s reputation and sound has only grown; Kitty Magick now adding its weight to the former while giving a new rounded aspect to the band’s musical landscape to date.
Recorded with John Meredith at Mollusk studio in New York, the album gets right down to business with opener Interrupting Synaptic Connection. From its initial groaning bassline, the song has ears hooked, even more so which its grizzly punk rock instincts ignite around the vocal growl of Ramos. Rhythms smack as riffs rapaciously crawl, all with a forceful tenacity matched in voice and raw energy as the track bullies and arouses the senses.
It is an outstanding start matched by the calmer but still sonically grumbling Bug. With either Nova Luz or Carrie Ramos taking lead vocals, no further info available, the song is a fiery blend of intensity and seduction. Rhythms make for an instinctive rumble whilst riffs and grooves lay an enjoyable dirty mist upon alluring harmonies and melodic enterprise; together making for a compelling incitement before the following snarl of The Electric Sonic Hate Machine takes over. A track about “the sadistic/ masochistic interactions bands wind up having with venue owners in a mutual stranglehold of gathering industry crumbs”, it growls in sound and anger; reality and defiance conflicting as melodic imagination emerges within a sonic dispute.
Across the boisterous stomp of Ted and the grungy saunter of Small Fry, band and album tighten their grip on attention and pleasure. The first is a mix of the familiar and fresh, a swinging punk confrontation fuelled by infectiousness and antagonistic attitude while the second has a slight whiff of R.E.M. to its low key and subdued but virulent enticement. The pair alone show the variety of sound and flavours making up The Amputees sound and songs, Cold Stars straight after adding to the mix with its pop punk bred alternative rock styled canter before the outstanding Kaleen steals the whole show with its filthy rock ‘n roll clad, pop punk worrying virulence. The track just hits the spot, it simultaneously dirty and clean cut and in equal measure dosing ears with grievance and salacious temptation.
The similarly jaundiced Quark follows, its web of punk and melodic rock increasingly persuasive though soon outshone by another major highlight in Bleachin’ Works, a predatory track virtually stalking the listener with its wiry grooves and argumentative rhythms. Like a mix of Nirvana and Dead Kennedys, the track is quite superb, one of the most thrilling and memorable moments among so many within Kitty Magick.
The album is completed by the acoustic embrace of Man In The Machine, a sixties scented female led pop serenade and quite the bewitching seduction to end the excellent encounter. If not knowing that the songs were recorded way back in the band’s history, you would assume they were brand new encounters such the potent and inventive songwriting The Amputees have had and unveiled since their first steps. Thank goodness that they decided to share them with us, better late than never.
Kitty Magick is out May 23rd through Money Fire Records.
The Amputees are…
Louis Ramos: lead vocal, rhythm guitar, lead guitar
Gary Young: lead guitar, rhythm guitar/
Nova Luz: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, lead vocal/
Kaleen Marie Reading: drums, rhythm guitar/
Geena Spigarelli: bass, backing vocal.
Carrie Ramos: lead vocal, backing vocal, tambourine.
Soledad Alvarado: bass.
Pete RingMaster 03/05/2017
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