Review for Heatwave Magazine
Label: Dirty Water Records - Released: January 2016
A dark, sax-driven rock and roll band– this is how Harry Violet & the Sharks define themselves, and rightly so. It’s delightful to see such a big revival of the saxophone; it played a vital part back in the golden days and it’s astonishing to see what the new bands are doing with this grandiose sax appeal. It doesn’t stop here, however, these new bands of young musicians like our Harry Violet & the Sharks have a sincerely deep knowledge of the classic beats of the 20th century, from rhythm and blues to garage rock, rockabilly to surf, free jazz to 12-bar blues, even from hard rock to punk. Rock and roll stands for them all, it glorifies each and every genre in an eternal musical haven embrace. These are joyful days we are experiencing in this fresh new music scene!
Harry Violet aka Rylott (vocals and guitar), Murdo Mackenzie (drums), Slim Tim Barrow (bass) and Mad Max Ellenberger (saxophone) are extremely focused on forming their own special sound. A DIY band that recorded, produced and pressed their single, and even shot a magnificent B-movie-like video. Harry says, “We decided to record it ourselves as we didn’t want it to sound overproduced and we didn’t want it to sound too glossy.” Their unpolished, wonderfully under produced raw sound comes from somewhere in the depths of the precious madness of Screamin Jay Hawkins, a delicious quick trait of Tom Waits, a whole lot of the garage rawness of The Sonics and The Cramps, the rockabilly wildness of Link Wray and Kip Tyler, and the ‘sax’iness of The Lounge Lizards. Their eclectic inspirations bring these crazy mix of late 1950s, early 60s rock and roll, surf and garage to a new sound with a lot of twilight-zone-jive fused personality. The band’s debut single “Jungle Cavalcade,” according to the bio on their website, “contains two original rock n roll numbers inspired by the wild and wacky adventures of Frank Buck and the dystopian youth madness of A Clockwork Orange.” And you will hear why.
Personality is the word here. Having so many disparate influences, Harry Violet the Sharks are creating a completely new wave. And, they could not be more resolute in this pursuit of an own sound. If they keep up with the pace I have no doubt they will succeed, as long as they don’t fall into the traps of the all-too-well-oiled music machinery of today, which has its very specific ways of professional alluring. They, too, can be Sharks. It was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that inspired the name Sharks for the band– the best possible allusion to all things corporate, fabricated, destitute of any primeval traits or instincts– the workingman’s masters.
“Jungle Cavalcade” has the funky sax doing the preliminaries of some New Orleans back alley voodoo blues, followed by steady drums and a very solid bass. Then, a bad Tom Waits impersonator comes along leaving almost immediately for a completely different register. Harry shows his versatility by starting with defying raspy-dusty mocking vocals to change it immediately to an admiringly clear and playful tuned-in voice. I wouldn’t mind hearing this song at some old bar deep in the Louisiana’s swamps.
The sax appeal comes in again full power in “Dance At The Korova.” Harry goes all Link Wray on us, waving graciously from high to deep notes. As for the lyrics, there can be a clear influence of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” which the band has mentioned as a good and timeless example of a song for the everyday workingman. All wrapped up with some howls and we got here a pretty tight rockabilly song.
Harry Violet & the Sharks came prepared and they will neither let routine bite them in the ass nor let the suits of London break their aspirations. And we, the avid listeners, are counting on them to make their dream of corporate freedom our own.
Cheers, me hearties, and don’t forget to hug the music.
By Penelope York
Harry Violet & the Sharks