AWESOME SNAKES – Venom
(2006 Crustacean Records)
Though Awesome Snakes was distilled from one of the more entertaining modern punk bands around, the Soviettes, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. Ever since the White Stripes first pissed me off years ago, the trend of a two-piece rock outfit has spread like a plague throughout the indie world. After all, if you only have to split beer money two ways, it makes for a far more profitable tour. So two-piece bands with no tone, less talent and more audacity than your average band infected the indie-rock scene and, well, pissed me off.
But then I listened to the disc ( a novel idea). The Australia wilderness guy sampled in the first few moments made me laugh. The huge riff that followed made me smile and throw up the fist of Satan (all hail Satan, the king of snakes). This band is all about tone. They are all about talent. And they are, thankfully, all about audacity. The opening track and namesake for this album, “Venom,” didn’t even bother with any lyrics, instead delivering a raspy, raging instrumental that showed immediately that these two, Annie Awesome on bass and Danny Snakes on drums, can tear into their solid rock ‘n’ roll riffs with the best of them. Within one short song, the tone and the talent were made abundantly clear.
But the audacity was distributed throughout every last song. From Annie spelling out the band name in the second track, “I Want a Snake,” to the very direct point made abundantly clear in “You Don’t Like Snakes, I Don’t Like You” (“If you don’t like the snake, you can go outside / And you can fuck yourself right in your fuckin’ heart, you idiot”), to the most illuminating statement on this whole album from “P.O.S. vs. Awesome Snakes”: “I got a name for people who don’t like snakes: Fuckers” (delivered by guest emcee P.O.S.).
But aside from impudence and witty lyrics, the music is so gritty, so gnarly, so banging that they convinced me that snakes really do kick ass and that I should like them and that if I don’t I’m a fucking asshole. Tunes like “These Snakes Get High” and “The Future of the Snake Industry” are just solid rockers that make you bounce and throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care. “Awesome Snacks” sounds like Blondie joined the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Out of left field, “Whiskey vs. Police” and “1950’s UFO vs. Snakes” bring a huge, manic, underground sound for just a couple of short minutes, delivering an almost disembodied psychedelic freak-out in the middle of a garage-punk record. And then “P.O.S. vs. Awesome Snakes” throws out some hip-hop flavor with a decidedly rough-edged feel. The band slithers between moods and styles, sounds and frequencies, while always staying rooted to an attitude and energy that are decidedly awesome.
With two instruments, two voices and two big, hairy balls hanging under their seriously snide snake, this band never surrenders the attitude for even a second. With huge riffs, huge tone and huge humor, the Awesome Snakes may be your new favorite band. And if you don’t like them, then you can fuck yourself right in your fuckin’ heart.