by Brian J. Audette
On their Demo 2015 EP, Strutter hearken back to the roots of hardcore punk with a collection of loud, fast, and short songs set to the tune of aggressive guitars and the pounding of drums. One thing you can always be certain of in life is that sooner or later, everything old will be new again or at least revisited. As it turns out, the label eschewing world of punk rock is no different. As the word “punk” in music has once again come around to denote a more stripped down sound in the minds of the mainstream based on what seems to be a bit of a revival of “garage” and “noise” bands, so too have many hardcore bands reached back to those early days and simpler sounds of Huntington Beach punk.
Serving up a platter of seven sub-two-minute songs, Strutter’s demo EP immediately recalls the sounds of such Californian first wave hardcore punk acts as the Circle Jerks, The Adolescents, and Social Distortion. Stripped down and fast paced, the songs on Strutter’s demo capture the rebellious, anti-pop sounds of early hardcore perfectly. Jagged bare bones chord progressions and pounding one-two, one-two, drum beats accompany breathlessly screamed lyrics as one song bleeds into the next. There’s no noodling or purposely added fuzz here, just verse-chorus-verse-done and on to the next song.
It would be easy to get lost on this demo as the differences between songs (especially for the less hardcore inclined) are subtle: slight variations in the crunch of the guitars or an unexpected indulgence of percussion. The lyrics are unfortunately a little too far back in the mix and while the emotion and energy comes through, the meaning gets lost behind a wall of repetitious instrumental aggression. For the average listener this may be a deal breaker, but if you dig hardcore like I do, then you’re likely to dig the sound for what it is, substance be damned.
All told, Strutter’s Demo 2015 is a decent opening salvo from a band that I’d like to hear more from before forming a final opinion. Like the early hardcore bands their sound seems to emulate, these tracks feel less like an album and more like an invitation to see them live. If they let loose on stage like they sound in the studio, I’d be willing to bet that they’d be worth checking out.
Brian Audette lives somewhere in Austin within a pillow fort made of broken dreams. He only comes out to see shows and buy beer. He has a surprisingly well maintained lawn and is using it to breed an army of attack mosquitoes with which to take over the world. Brian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @bjaudette.