I was excited to see that Empty Records was releasing some new shit and the samples I had heard from Snitches Get Stitches sounded promising. I remember this label fondly as they were responsible for releasing all the great records from Sicko, and they were an important band to my little South King County punk rock upbringing. The good news is that Empty has another hit on their hands, and even better news to some is that they sound nothing like Sicko!
One of the first things I read about these guys described them as LA math meets NYC art-rock. Talk about a turnoff! Shit, they may as well have added terms like white power, Omaha, screamo, and worst of all: straight edge. But I wouldnít be writing this review if there was any LA math or NYC art rock involved, so breathe easy; there is none. That description is all-too-fitting for another Seattle band: the Blood Brothers. Donít get me wrong, the Blood Brothers are cool and all, with their haircuts inspired by Juventus circa í02, and their home-made purses and handbags sold at the merch table (which I have purchased, thank you). Snitches are not anywhere near as challenging as BB; their brand of rock was surprisingly accessible, melodic, and straightforward. These two bands are like sushi, ya dig. The Blood Brothers are that weird thing that expert sushi eaters insist upon eating even though thereís no big payoff, whereas Snitches Get Stitches are your tasty California Roll but delivered with some serious Wasabi for that added sinus-clearing punch. Oh, thereíll be more bad analogies. Another thing I read compared them to fellow Washingtonians Federation X, but that was also thrown right out the window upon the first listen. Sure, maybe I canít write a record review, but look at all misinformation Iím up against! What you need to know is that these guys straddle the sub-genres and blend traditional indie rock with punk and hardcore. For a three-piece they have a lot going on; itís noisy rock with ample vocal trade-offs and lots of feedback, but itís never sloppy. Itís a very aggressive record that harkens back to the days when Amphetamine Reptile was a flourishing label. Hot damn, anyone remember AmRep? That was before the trite and tired screaming vocal styles found among every hair band in the scene today. SighÖ
Iím especially hesitant to liken Snitches to other bands because Iím treading in some unfamiliar musical waters here. But lack of knowledge on any subject has never really silenced my opinion before, so fuck it! I think itís safe to say theyíre heavily influenced by the Northwest ó bands like Unwound and Fitz Of Depression for example ó but Hot Snakes may be the most contemporary act to draw comparisons to. And while Iím name-checking every band possible because I donít have the powers of articulation to explain what this record sounds like, inhale, I should throw in that my girlfriend thinks they sound like Cursive. Is this helping at all? Letís move on.
The production is just right for these dudes, handled by DIY legend Conrad Uno. This is a band that sounds both dirty and furious and that has been captured seamlessly without compromising sonic quality. Put simply, it just sounds right. In addition, there are some wacky samples between a couple songs that really accentuate the transitions and bring some ambiance to the recordÖokay, that was a pretty fruity sentence, but honestly, the production also offers some neat bells and whistles that are an added highlight of the overall package. Kudos to Conrad for his work here.
Well, itís not all candy and nuts. I was a bit disappointed with the artwork because it was like a two-panel booklet with no lyrics. In this day and age, bands need to do a better job of providing some value with their product, and skimping on the content is a bummer from a fanís point of view. Itís worsened because I really feel like Snitches probably have a very provocative message, especially with hilarious song titles like ďRelease The KrakenĒ and ďNinja Please.Ē Aside from the fact that thereís already a glut of (shitty) bands out there, itís easy enough to download records, and you canít blame people if you donít make much of an effort. My point is, if you were to get this on iTunes, you wouldnít be missing out on any kick-ass packaging.
But we canít end on that note, especially considering this is my favorite new record and itíll likely make my yearís best list. Itís dangerous yet intelligent rock, and made more refreshing because it sits so awkwardly among the current musical trends. I look forward to seeing them live in some shitty SF club, and I know when I do there wonít be a single Taking Back Sunday shirt in sight. Sweet, sweet sanctuary.
Non-believers should begin by checking out songs like ďKoala StarsĒ or ďIíve Got A Thing For Violets.Ē
Snitches Get Stitches - Koala Stars
Snitches Get Stitches - Ninja, Please.