So, just what has Cheltenham actually produced in terms of musical talent? Gustav Holst… Killing Joke (or, Jaz Coleman at least)… Worzel from Motorhead… Pigbag… err… (I can’t name any more and I live here!)
Well, hold on to your hats and lock up your daughters, here come Cheltenham’s newest export – GagReflex – “a two-headed punk rock machine – small enough to tour in a car; big enough to take your face clean off”.
Sounds like fun, and their debut 4 track E.P. – “Nails” – has just been released on Bandcamp (with no minimum payment amount – available for free). So, is it really as punk as fuck?
Well, in a word FUCK YEAH! GagReflex make an unholy noise which, if not handled correctly, probably could take your face off. The duo – Stu on bass and vocals and Seb behind the kit – fill the entire sonic spectrum with a filthy noise which fizzes, buzzes, distorts and grinds its way through four excellent tracks.
Combine the math-rock of Mars Volta and the relentless grind of early Killing Joke, and you are getting close to what’s on offer… pounding floor toms, driven high-hats and a cracking snare underpinning layers of dirty bass riffs, which leap from rolling verses, to staccato choruses, to soaring middle eights. And the vocals sit back and nag at you, in a sinister manner reminiscent of Robert Smith at his lowest (Pornogaphy) – “scream all you want, that’s how I’ve planned this” .
And, surely, What’s The Deal, Kim Jong-il? has to be song title of the year!
The energy this music gives out is punk – pure and simple – and stripped back just about as far as you can go, so the two players must put everything in, and then some, to fill the sound out. The end result is a noise that many four-piece bands would like to achieve – and the playing is as tight as a coiled spring.
Punk isn’t about the volume or the amount of distortion you can generate (although that obviously helps), it all in the fucking attitude, and GagReflex have it in spades.
Punk as fuck! Pass the word on.
And if you like that lot, here are some older GagReflex demos on Soundcloud.
Spawned from the ashes of a band that imploded trying to write the most complicated songs known to man, the two heads that are GagReflex decided that they needed a new MO. Enter a new approach – brave, obtuse, defiant, yet simpler, and more fun – bass and drums – that’s all you need, right? GR thought so and got cracking on that basis. A fresh new blend emerged – absolute punk rock, with alternative pop tendencies – something to leave an odd but addictive taste on the palate.