Eight Rounds Rapid: LossLeader (Cadiz)
Promising debut album from Southend R&B ruffians Eight Rounds Rapid who include in their number the son of Wilko Johnson.
They’re not making a big deal out of guitarist Simon Johnson’s Dad being our Wilko; this is a band that stand on their own shiny brogue soles and there’s no hint of coat-tail clutching on LossLeader whatsoever. Formed in 2013, they certainly channel the sound of Canvey Island but this is no mere revivalism. Dave Alexander’s freewheeling lyrics are planted firmly in the 21st Century with his band-mates’ energetic chopping, growling backing delivered pretty much fat-free.
Opening song (and lead single) Channel Swimmer is indicative of what’s to come; speed-thrill rhythm, finger-blistering guitar riffing and Alexander’s barrow-boy snarl. You can forget the niceties of your typical landfill indie, this is rock and roll as it was meant to be. Think The Who, The Feelgoods (of course), Nine Below Zero and a rather innocuous dollop of Mark Perry’s ATV with a modernist slant and you’re close to the soul of ERR.
Alexander doesn’t really mess about; his lyrics are all little kitchen sink dramas set in the world that he so clearly inhabits. Dostoevsky is slightly less frantic than its predecessor and reminds me a little of The Godfathers in it’s needling guitar interplay and groove.
Tales of the Essex pubs, clubs and underworld are all part of the fabric of LossLeader and Kicks does exactly that. Not a love song per se but it does have a hint of romance under its grubby fingernails. Stalker leaves the bluesy riffing for a more post-punk, Andy Gill-style discordant choppy attack. Jules Cooper and Lee Watkins provide a suitably motorik rhythm for the overlay of Alexander and Johnson’s melodic-meets-sheet-metallic jigsaw.
Talent continues the late-seventies-austerity theme with more jagged, buzzsaw guitar and looping bass. The lyrics let this one down a little, however; “Britain’s got talent, but most of us ‘aven’t” sings Alexander in the chorus and it seems a tad laboured despite the angular assault of the musicians.
Alexander’s delivery throughout is all rapid authenticity and deadpan Essex boy menace. Rightabout sees him channel John Cooper Clarke in the machine-gun lyrics as the band keep it tightly wound. The album rarely lets up in the energy levels and the band have gained huge plaudits for a live show that literally leaves Johnson’s guitar spattered with his blood.
“We’re from this place, every song is a story”, states Alexander and it’s hard to disagree. Eight Rounds Rapid are the real thing.
All words by Joe Whyte, find his Louder Than War archive here.