Another in an occasional series of reviews of recent releases by Lehigh Valley performers.
I haven’t written many From the Valley posts lately. In part, that’s because I just haven’t crossed paths with much new music that floated my boat.
There’s loads of lo-fi punky folk, and grindcore and metalcore, and experimental noise. It’s not all bad, but I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve heard it before and didn’t have much new to say.
It took The 4 Walls to break me out of the four walls of writer’s block, with a swaggering five-song EP released online earlier this month.
The 4 Walls — they’re three guys from Bethlehem — play simple, chunky, rootsy punk with a bite.
Not punk as in hard, loud, fast blow-you-over stuff, but punk as in blues-tinged post-Stooges crunch that makes up in attitude what it lacks in speed.
Guitarist, pianist and vocalist John Sears has a voice that lands somewhere between Iggy Pop and Billy Idol, particularly on the low end. It’s pretty much the perfect instrument to deliver lyrics like, “Sex and drugs and rock and roll / I’ll be a dead man before it takes its toll.”
(I’m still trying to figure out if “Eat Me Alive”‘s lyrical couplet “If I had a dime for every time I ran out of gas / I’d have money for gas” is simple no-sweat tossed-off genius, or just stoopid. You could ask that question of a lot of great punk lyrics.)
The 4 Walls sing about the usual subjects — predatory women, paying dues, that kind of thing — over familiar grungy riffs. There’s also an instrumental, “Time Bomb,” that sounds like it’s still waiting for some words.
It appears that the band did the recording itself, and it sounds quite good for a self-production — nice and crisp.
I note that the band has shows in New York City and Philadelphia coming up, which suggests that it’s a little more serious than your average Lehigh Valley knockabouts.
And finally, I see that the band quotes Bon Scott on its Facebook page, which maybe also gives you some idea where its loyalties lie in terms of no-frills prowly rock n’ roll.
I could stand a little more variation in some of their songs, but by and large, The 4 Walls provide a nice rock n’ roll jolt. I suggest bolting down a couple cups of coffee (maybe a cigarette, too, if your tastes run that way) and checking them out. They make it just a little harder to go back to the basement folk-punk and grindcore.
The 4 Walls’ self-titled EP is available as a $5 download here.