Joe Brady: vocals, bass
Junnie Fortney: guitars, backing vocals
Troy Alwine: drums, backing vocals
1. Fist In the Air
2. Just Like Bela
3. Living Life to the Emptiest
6. Letter to the Government
7. Running Riot
8. Ghost Song
9. Queen of the Stage
10. Suffragette City
11. Yeah We Suck
The subject of today’s review have a rather unusual history: having got together (in Pennsylvania) in 1979 at the height of punk (in the UK), they seem to have…bided their time? Entered the TARDIS? Disappeared? Whatever the story, they didn’t release their first album until almost 35 years later, 2013’s One Foot In the Grave and More Pissed Than Ever. True, there was a live album in 1982 and the odd appearance on compilation albums but, yep, 2013 was their first. See? Unusual.
They seem to be gathering pace now, however: in July 2015 they released album number two, the pithily named Splat. Consisting of thirteen tracks including two covers (of which more later), the album draws together their punk heritage with their love of Fifties rock n roll, Sixties surfer music and Seventies glam to create a properly punk (and properly enjoyable) experience.
With virtually every track clocking in at around three minutes or less, they certainly have that part of the punk ethos licked. Track one ‘Fist In the Air’ starts with a thick bass intro and whine of feedback before kicking into vocalist Joe Brady’s raw vocal style and a rockabilly influenced beat.
And so the album continues, with three chord punk rock tracks such as ‘Straightjacket’, all snotty lyrics and Stardust-era Bowie vibe; the ‘oi!’ punk of ‘Biker’; and the swagger of ‘Letter to the Government’. There’s also shades of glam rock, particularly in the ‘British as anything’ feel of ‘Running Riot’, which has a Sweet/Suzi Quatro feel, and the tongue-in-cheek spookiness of ‘Ghost Song’; as well as horror punk (‘Just Like Bela’) and pure rockabilly (‘Lining Life to the Emptiest’), not to mention the hilarious ‘Yeah We Suck’ with its upbeat pace and simple humorous lyrics.
Those covers? How about a punktastic ‘Suffragette City’, featuring the most melodic singing on the album, and a jawdropping, ‘WTF?’ version of none other than Hank Williams’ ‘Kaw-Liga’, with its tale of a lonely Indian given a punk makeover, to much bafflement and eventual acceptance. Ha!
For Scanner, punk is definitely not dead. Their music is simple – check out the title track, with it’s single-word lyrics – “splat!” – but highly entertaining and good old fashioned fun. The influence of British rather than American punk is clear as day: at times they sound like they’ve been listening to The Sex Pistols and practising the accent (such as on ‘Running Riot’). Splat is old school punk rock caught in a time warp – no bad thing, as far as we at The Independent Voice are concerned. Stick this album on at precisely the right ‘happy drunk’ moment of your next party and enjoy.
Review by Melanie Brehaut