Broken Banjo – Bravo 106
The last Broken Banjo EP, Bootleg Porn Volume III, was a great, raw, explosive and refreshing dose of energy. It was something the music scene was craving. Combining garage rock with a modern dose of overdriven guitar, rhythm, metal and quirk, they succeeded in a genre where most bands tend to flounder. At times the songs were balls to the wall noisy and pulsing. At others, they were quintessentially blues, understated and, above all, interesting. So, when I found out that the follow up, Bravo 106, was on it’s way, I was looking forward to seeing which direction the band would decide to take.
From the start, this release sees a much harder blues sound than previously heard. But Broken Banjo manage to exist in the garage/blues rock world without nodding to the same blues artists as everybody else and they don’t sound like their stuck in the past; a very welcome change. The raw attitude is still there, if anything amplified, reminiscent of The Stooges and Death. Now though, the guys seem much more confident in their ability not only as musicians but as songwriters, still allowing their influences to hang on their sleeves while allowing themselves to be themselves and create genuinely unique soundscapes. It’s an achievement that deserves a lot of credit.
The guitar work sounds up to date and indicatively rock ‘n’ roll at the same time, creating it’s own voice which screams over a rhythm section with as much attitude to back it up. As a band, they don’t rely on aggressive riffs or loud hooks to grab your attention (although you’ll find plenty if that’s what you want). This EP isn’t afraid of holding back and giving every instrument room to breathe. Lyrically, the vocals shift from infectious melodies like Raise Your Flag And Make Your Children Dumb, which sounds like a song that inexplicably should already exist, to anthems like African Child. The rest of the time, Broken Banjo exhibit the in your face attitude that won them their fans in the first place that’ll reaffirm old fans and welcome the new.
In comparison to the last EP, the production value is a little less slick. But this is hardly a criticism. The sound seems intentionally stripped back, laid bare and very garage-esque, so this actually works in their favour for the most part. Plus, all of the parts have plenty of room to flourish and be heard, going far to make sure that all of the nuance and emotion is noticed and not hidden behind a veil of decibels.
All in all, this is a great release and as good a follow up as I could have hoped for. Broken Banjo still cement themselves as a must see not just for the Medway music scene, but for anyone willing to listen. The energy of their live performances is captured about as perfectly as possible, which is great for a band who have become such a stable in the live music diet around these parts, and the music is seriously enjoyable. More than well worth a listen.
By Ollie Crook
Bravo 106 is released on the 1st November 2013. To keep up to date visit www.facebook.com/Broken.Banjo