Artist: Bang Sugar Bang
Album: Thwak Thwak Go Crazy
Label: SOS Records
Street Date: December 6, 2005
Rating: 2.8 out of 5 Stars
Bang Sugar Bang walk a hard road in the land of Punk music. Too pop for hardcore fans and too hard for pop fans. The resulting sound is straight up beer-guzzling Rock & Roll. Not a bad thing in this day and age, when music tends to be over intellectualized or overproduced. The group is a trio that consists of guitarist/vocalist Matt Southwell, bassist/vocalist Cooper and drummer Pawley Filth. They have been compared to X on many occasions and the influence is definitely discernable, especially on tracks like “Punk Beat“. The high energy and male/female vocal interplay had me instantly interested.
I have given the album a middle-of-the-road rating not because it’s mediocre all the way through, but because it’s inconsistent. It has absolutely brilliant and fun moments. A handful of tracks are a solid 4 stars, however about half the songs are dogs that would rate a 1. At their best Bang Sugar Bang combine some of the same style as rock heroes like the previously mentioned X as well as The Jam, The Sex Pistols and early Sonic Youth (Think Cartoon). In addition to these, I also hear a good deal of early alternative pop shine through, including flavors of Big Country, The Pixies and Debbie Harry.
As I said, there are some big winners here. “The Machine Gun Song“, “Major Label Interest“, “Sunday Night” and “Where’s The Fun in That” are perfect pop nuggets delivered with precision and verve. Bang Sugar Bang is at their best when Cooper delivers a backing vocal in support of Matt’s lead. She does okay with the lead when she’s administering more of a Sonic Youth treatment, as on the song “Tony“. However, on many tracks I actually felt embarrassed for her. She is so flat on “Kill The Radio” and “Alright” that it made me consider re-burning the disc in order that I might omit the offending tracks. Cooper plays some tight bass and adds perfect backing vocals, but her lead vocals (along with the lyrics) bring the record from a strong 4 star release down to a 2.8. Matt’s guitar is right on target, never dull and never flashy and Pawley’s drumming is rock solid tight, but never mechanical.
I can almost forgive the lyrics since this is only feel good Rock & Roll we’re talking about, but lines like,
made me want to kick my dog.
It must be said that Bang Sugar Bang are early in their career. They would probably laugh at a statement like this since “early” is probably a decade at minimum. However, I am speaking in terms of notariety, not struggle. They were recently selling CDs through the independent CD Baby, but now have some real distribution power after being signed by SOS Records, home of The Adicts and The Vibrators . SOS will release Thwak Thwak to the world on December 6th. This year they also won the Billboard Magazine/DiscMakers Independent World Series contest, which is no small feat. It garnered the band a cool $35,000 in goods and services to help them onto the next level.
They are certainly on their way.