The self-titled EP Blackmail Box by Nottingham, UK’s Blackmail Box has a rock and roll and punk edge to it that gives the impression of sitting in the garage with the band while they play through these four songs. It’s immediate and has good energy.
The end of the EP is the strongest. “Burning Chrome” opens up with the title read a cappella and distorted to a length that straddles being funny and heroic. It works very well and gives a lot of life to the beginning of the song. Here the band seems to find their groove, the drum hits accenting the melody, the Ribot-esque squonk-tone of the guitar and a vocal that leads the rest of the band through the carnival.
“Nothing For Something” closes the EP with a heavy garage rock sound, the guitar and bass sizzling in feedback and a tom-based driving drum pattern. The vocals dip into Fred Schneider and David Byrne territory at times, giving a blend between garage rock and no-wave, which the band manages to do very effectively.
The title track “Blackmail Box” and namesake of the band opens the EP with a Ventures-like riff as seen through the eyes of the Ramones and a Nick Cave vocal inflection. The rapid-fire staccato vocal melody could fit right into the New York punk seen of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Some of the drum parts however don’t quite line up with the rest of the band and lose some of the drive that is implied by the rest of the parts. “Shakedown” plays between a tremolo guitar countermelody and the vocal line. Again, however the drums are a bit sloppy and the song has a hard time taking off.
To be sure, there is a fine line between too much polish on a song and keeping the raw edge of rock and roll. Blackmail Box has the edge, taking the time to clean up some missed parts could really help drive home what they’re already doing well.
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