Reviewed by Kent Manthie
Still early in the year, but already we have an album that is a real kick-ass, fiery, raw and raucous album: the self-titled (debut?) from Sex Headaches. When I first gave it a listen, I was going through some emails, etc. but listening at the same time, but my whole attention was given over to it after hearing about 2 full songs’ worth of it: it’s got some great kicks, like the proto-punk gods of the ’70s, such as Iggy & the Stooges, MC5, Willie DeVille, The Germs and, by the time I got to “I Fall”, a nine minute, wigged out masterpiece, I knew there was some Velvet Underground in there as well.
This is a great album made all the more noticeable by the fact that there aren’t many bands around today who have this ballsy, stripped down, sex-drugs-and-rock & roll-style. No heavy-duty studio fashioning, or computer manipulating; just a crunchy, raw juggernaut.
I just can’t say enough about Sex Headaches (or Sex Headaches – that is, the album or the band). The songs have a genuine hipster tone to them, no phony down time here. I think that they would be a fun band to see in concert – a rip-roaring good time and it’d definitely have to be at a dark, cavernous, small-ish, intimate club (say, The Troubadour, in West Hollywood, for reference).
Can’t say that I have a whole lot of biographical information (as yet, anyway) about Sex Headaches, but, what I can tell you is that Angelo (drums), Luke (guitar, vocals) and Sam (guitar), a trio who have a big, big sound (but who plays the bass?) are a solid, groovy, proto-punk (or, since we’re way past ‘proto-punk’, should we call it “neo-proto-punk”?) outfit that really shines, musically. Beyond the loud and jaundiced-eye-view of things, typically of the genre I’m talking about, Sex Headaches also play their instruments with a thundering precision (“and a backbeat, narrow and hard to master…”-J. Morrison).
Songs such as the opener, “Profane Trip” and “We Met” set the scene and then, you get to “I Fall”, which, in its nine minutes, has a really steady but amazing hypnotic core to it; where I felt those Velvet Underground vibes – up to that point I was, no doubt, digging it, but by the time “I Fall” was over, I was even more in love with their sound. Other tunes worth mentioning include, well, all of it, really, all seven tunes, which, after “I Fall” are “Cult Couture”, a short discourse on the disciples of fashion and the cult of celebrity and ‘fitting in’. Then, there’s a nice un-ballad, “To You”, followed by “Split” and “No Release” – and I’m sure all of us can sympathize with a situation like that.
In its short span of 30 minutes, Sex Headaches manages to pack a mean wallop of great tunes that, although they may harken back to some of the great anti-pop of the 70s and early 80s, doesn’t have a “retro” feel to it. It sounds new, fresh and it’s a great treat to hear some bone-chilling rock. I do hope that I’ll be hearing more from these guys really soon. This is a band that is very much needed in the margarine-saccharine times that we live in today. Sex Headaches are real – they don’t polish their sound or their voices up in the studio and then sound completely different on stage, although, I imagine a Sex Headaches concert would be quite an exciting show. Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t want to sound like some kind of musical “purist”, who thinks that anyone who uses synthesizers or studio manipulations, et cetera are phony or that they wouldn’t sound good in concert. No, there are plenty of times when, depending on the band and the sub-genre they play, the studio is an integral part of what they ‘do’ – when, for them, the studio, itself, becomes almost another instrument. What makes S.H. such a breath of fresh air is that there aren’t really many stripped down, punk bands any longer. In fact, the term “punk”, over the past two decades has been so overused and misused that it’s almost lost any real meaning. Well, with the advent of Sex Headaches and their ilk – and I know that there’s more where that came from – “punk” can finally be rightfully reclaimed by purveyors of the real thing (not “hardcore”, mind you, but a more melodious, vital sound that isn’t just about two minute tunes played fast and loose.
I can’t wait to hear what’s next for Sex Headaches. I’m going to keep this one on my Windows Media Player so I can listen to it more and more. I’m just glad that I was there and got the chance to hear it and write up a review in which I could spread the word and shout it out loud that these guys are something else! If you want to get a copy for yourselves and/or give it a listen-to, visit Bandcamp, specifically, the page at which you can both sample their tunes and download a copy for yourself: https://sexheadaches.bandcamp.com/ . Happy listening! -KM.