A little tip for garage rock bands: don't put Stooges' covers on your albums.
For one thing, you won’t get within spitting distance of the scuzz, fuzz, filth and attitude that the Detroit Daddies projected instinctively: there’s also the very real risk that it’ll show up your own songwriting for the tawdry fistful of riffs that it invariably is. Credit then to West Londoners Katalina Kicks who get away with covering Search and Destroy without unwittingly torpedoing their own album in the process.
It’s over a decade now since garage rock was last in fashion, with music magazines that traditionally despise rock music hailing the likes of The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Vines and The Datsuns as the vanguard of a ‘New Rock Revolution’. Fortunately, true garage rock bands have never given a flying fuck for what’s ‘on trend’, and while the hipsters roll on to the next flavour of the hour, there’s always be a new breed of bands carrying on the old ways, channelling heart and soul through knackered Vox amps.
Chances are that Katalina Kicks won’t get a look-in in their native land. Fortunately, traditional media can easily be by-passed these days, and there’s a big world beyond our own fashion-obsessed little island. Happily too, the Londoners have the songs and swagger to kick up a proper racket for those prepared to listen. Dirt, the quartet’s second album, isn’t likely to start any revolutions, but it’s a splendidly noisy collection of deceptively smart songs. Punchy opener Sex N Drugs might adhere rather too closely to The Hives cocky riff-rock template, but the deeper one ventures into this 11 track collection the more the quartet begin to allow their own voices to resonate. Kings Of America already sounds like a jukebox standard, with its explosive chorus bursting forth from pleasingly droning riffs, National Hero has the vim and crackle of De Stijl-era White Stripes, Send Her My Way wouldn’t sound out of place blasting from speakers in a 1960s Hamburg speakeasy and Coming Down mines a nicely-controlled, evocative psych-punk groove. It all adds up to mark out Katalina Kicks out as a sharp, sussed unit, prioritising craft over hype and marketing. Old-fashioned maybe, but then real rock n’ roll never needs much of an upgrade.