Artist: The Sonics
Album: Here are The Sonics!!!
Genre: Garage Rock
“Say there’s a girl
Who’s new in town
Well, you better watch out now
Or she’ll put you down
’cause she’s an evil chick
Say she’s the witch”
I’ll be honest, I found myself excited to listen to this album. No particular reason why. Did I know the band beforehand? Nope, not at all. Never heard of The Sonics until now. So what was it that got me so excited? I believe it was the album cover… it’s not a crazy album cover in any way but something about it told me I was going to experience something a little different than what I’ve been listening to up this point. Something a little harder maybe, a little rawer, a little more rock than pop.
I’m happy to say I was right because what I was met with was something dirty and nasty sounding. The Sonics seem to be an early incarnation of what would come to be known as Garage Rock and they show all the elements of it. The recording sounds awful, sounds almost like they actually did record it in their garage and submitted it as is. It sounds more like a compilation of basement tapes than an actual album.
“Should we maybe polish it up, make it sound halfway decent?”
And why indeed. The nasty sound recording is what gives the album it’s edge and charm. So far we’ve only heard live albums that have had this level of recording and even then they were way better than what we had to listen here. Sometimes when all the band members start playing their instruments all at once, it explodes into the mic like a giant cacophony of noise. It’s beautiful on every level.
There’s not too much that can be said about this album. it does what it needs to do. Musically it’s dirty and raw and lyrically it talks about the teenage lifestyle of girls, cars and chilling out, which would become a staple of the garage rock genre (mixing it together with some good old teen angst). The singer growls and screams into the microphone aggressively, taking out his frustrations, especially in the three original songs found on the album (The Witch, Psycho, Strychnine). The covers for the most part are fairly decent and they’re dusty sounding playing really gives each pop song they covered a new texture to it unheard before. But it’s really in their original songs where the band shines the most. Also, to their credit, the songs never reach the 3-minute mark, yet all feel longer than 3 minutes, which was interesting. This is one of the shortest albums I had to listen to so far and yet still managed to last my entire bus ride home… I can’t explain that phenomenon. This isn’t a bad thing at all as I really enjoyed every song, I was just surprised to see that the songs were much shorter than they actually felt.
Listening to them you get a good sense of where this album is placed historically in music. If you’re looking far enough back, this would be a good place to look as the start of Punk Rock music. It shows all the early characteristics of what would become Punk Rock in the 1970’s. The D.I.Y. attitude of the band members, playing and recording themselves in their own way, the aggressiveness of the playing and singing, the the themes of teenage frustration, the dirty sounding guitars that clang away shamelessly and that “I don’t give a shit” attitude that is exuded throughout. They don’t care how they sound, they just playing the music the way they want to.
The Sonics were one of the first Garage bands to step foot onto the scene and thanks to them they opened the door for future garage bands to come and take their place as well. You think Nirvana would have been able to do what they did if not for The Sonics starting the journey? I don’t think so. Heck, Kurt Cobain has even cited The Sonics as being a big influence on him, which shows and makes sense. The Sonics weren’t the greatest, but they were the first (presumably) and it’s a real shame there isn’t more people talking about them. Really, I mean it. When it comes to Garage Rock, Punk and Grunge, (and any other genre similar to these) I have not once heard anything about this band. I even took a roots of rock n roll class that covered garage rock and didn’t even mention The Sonics. I don’t get it. This album is even cited as being incredibly influential on these genres… so why aren’t they being talked about more??
More people should be talking about them. I don’t think to the point of analyzing their work and writing lengthy essays, but they should be acknowledged and pointed to anytime history of garage and punk rock is mentioned.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Song of Choice: Strychnine