Folk punk. One of the greatest inventions since lactose free cheese. All joking aside: I love folk punk, since it usually has great danceability, even for someone as stiff-legged as myself, a lot of musical diversity and it’s usually a blast to experience live. But, let’s face it…there are a lot of bands that choose this genre without bringing anything new to the table…today’s musicians will change that, trust me. Smokey Bastard from Reading are about to release their new full-length, Back To The Drawing Room, and they incorporate certain elements that I’ve never heard in combination with folk punk. Read on if you want to find out what I mean!
The six guys have all the typical instruments such as drums, guitars and bass at their disposal and of course they add the (English) folk-typical instruments such as banjo, accordion and mandolin to the mix. The kicker about them, however, is the fact that while they do stay faithful to the typical folk punk sound, they have some truly metal-sounding parts with really distorted guitar riffs and crazy double bass work. While it might come across quite underwhelmingly on paper, it sounds so massive when performed that it blew me away the first time I put the record on.
A good example of this is toward the end of the song Screens, where the folk instruments play a beautiful melody in harmony while being backed-up by a heavy groove riff and some fabulously hard-hitting footwork on the drums. I love it. The ten songs are chock-full with such “oh shit” moments and even after my twentieth listen I’m still amazed by the perfectly fitting interplay of all the different elements.
Of course no folk punk ensemble is complete with a charismatic voice to recount tales of days gone by. Such is the case on BTTDR as well, and the singer delivers a gripping performance which varies between screams, clean singing and insanely fast spoken word, making these forty minutes fairly diverse yet never entirely pulling you away from the rest.
All in all, Smokey Bastard really took me by surprise since I was expecting just another, albeit good, folk punk ensemble, but was instead introduced to one of the most promising acts in the genre. Do yourself a favor and give Back To The Drawing Room a listen when it’s released on November 13th and in the meantime listen to their song below. Also look them up on Facebook if you so desire.