Needs – [Album]

Friday, 08 May 2015

(File Under: Music)
It’s funny how, while the sound of an album might not seem particularly interesting upon a listener’s first exposure to it, it’s possible for something to spontaneously change, shift the focus of the music ever-so-slightly and suddenly make it totally captivating.Such a thing happened for me the first time I heard NEEDS’ self-titled debut; when I put it on, I was less than thrilled to discover that almost none of the usual trappings which qualify an album as punk were present (distortion, speedy and forceful drumming, busy and bottom-heavy bass lines) – the only obvious cliche was the fact that singer Sean Orr was screaming his head off the whole time. “Alright fine,” I thought. “This is going to be another indie hardcore album, let’s go.”

Then it happened. Right after I have decided what I thought I’d be in for with this album, I started noticing little sonic abnormalities in the mix of “Rescue Don.” The little abnormalities sounded like they may have been instances of sound reflecting off of different surfaces – walls, indiscernible objects – which were then picked up by the microphones used to record the album. Likewise, subtle imperfections in Orr’s vocal delivery (little level and tone changes) became evident. All put together, the way that “Rescue Don” sounded made it seem possible that NEEDS might just have been recorded live off the floor – and that possibility seemed wildly exciting.

With the provocative question of NEEDS possibly being a live-off-the-floor affair on the tip of my mind, I began listening much, much closer. I ended up being well-rewarded for my effort – even if I still can’t say whether or not the album was recorded live off the floor conclusively.

First, I discovered that NEEDS do own distortion pedals (not just raw volume which causes natural distortion) and know exactly how to use them as “Walk, Cycle, or Take Transit Like Jehu” crashes in – all teeth and anger – and begins assaulting anyone and anything that stands immediately before it. Unlike “Rescue Don,” there is precisely no delicacy about Colin Spensley and Derek Adam’s guitars here – they are simply the unfiltered sound of sonic adrenaline unleashed. Likewise, Devin O’Rourke’s drumming and Glenn Anderson’s bass both launch and sustain a vicious and metronomic strike here, and Orr settles all the last doubts listeners may have by just coming along howling and ready to chop listeners’ heads off. The sound is fantastic – both noxious and addictive – and with it locked down, NEEDS really begins pounding heads, wowing ears and making both beg for more. Songs like “Clowns to the Left of Me, Dzhokhars to the Right” – with its howling calls of action (“Run!”) and crass come-ons (“Be afraid motherfucker”) – simultaneously wins and hardens hearts, “N.E.E.D.S.” (which crassly berates society and societal ills), “Nag Champion” (with its medicated-feeling, sensory-deprived guitars) and “The Accursed Share” will drive adrenaline levels up in even the most passive of listeners and provide the perfect foil for more deceptively light fare like “We Forgot the Records to Our Record Release Show” (which begins with the words “What am I doing?! (and then spoken) No seriously – what am I doing?”) which all focus more on humor than hardcore. In that regard, NEEDS offers a great and very human mix to hardcore which hasn’t really been done as well since Circle Jerks started really making heads spin in 1980.

That said, it shouldn’t need stating that NEEDS’ self-titled album marks the arrival of a great new band that any fan of hardcore should be paying attention to, but why leave anything to chance? When it is released on May 12, 2015, go get in line at your local record store and buy a copy of this disc. Buy the CD or buy the record, just go buy it. It’s very possible that NEEDS will be the new blood which launches the next punk renaissance – it is that good and that inspiring.


NEEDS’ self-titled full-length album will be released via File Under: Music on May 12, 2015. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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