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Smalltown Tigers - Crush On You

  by Adrian Janes

published: 4 / 5 / 2024

Smalltown Tigers - Crush On You
Label: Area Pirata
Format: CD


Italian trio Smalltown Tigers make their full-length debut and rock in the classic punk way

The Ramones, especially their earliest incarnation, are unashamedly written into the DNA of the Smalltown Tigers’ sound: concise songs with clawing, raw guitars and relentless drums. Their energy is admirable, but how satisfying you find this album will depend on how happy you are to hear ten songs that so evoke 1977 as to make it seem like next to nothing has happened musically since. What is different from then is the fact that this music is made by a trio of Italian women whose vocalist sings in English, with a sneer somewhere between Joan Jett and Suzi Quatro. Even in Britain and America, the chief creators of punk rock were rarely female and usually in the isolated but focal point of being the singer, from the Banshees to Penetration to X-Ray Spex. The Slits and the Raincoats were of course exceptions, but whereas they eschewed loud, distorted guitars as a manifestation of machismo, the Tigers show no such inhibitions. Perhaps this is where ‘Crush on You’ does show progress towards equality, that in 2024 an all-female group can display such unabashed power. Several of the songs are basic punk rock, the crash of ‘Meet Me in The City’ certain to set heads banging, while the speedy ‘Crush on You’ itself is founded on a traditional rock and roll riff. ‘Maybe’ and ‘Monster’ pile along in classic ’77 style, at a couple of points the latter even adding an exuberant “1 2 3 4!”. ‘Joey’ is presumably a song of devotion directed at the Ramones’ singer. But as a punk ‘love’ song, it’s appropriately relentless and largely reduced to yelling his name, apart from the key lines : “All the girls are running around/All the girls are having fun.” They clearly are. There are a few points where some detours from the straight-ahead punk route add greater interest to the energy. On ‘Teddy Bear’, some pounding piano emphasises the song’s fierce passion, which towards the end revs up its speed and overlays some screeching guitar. For sure, this is no tribute to Phil Spector’s first band. ‘Dressed Right and Skinny’ is medium paced with some slightly unusual changes, and for once adds a touch of distinct reverb to singer/bassist Valli’s voice. (Along with guitarist Monty and drummer Castel, the band seemingly have no surnames.) Above all there’s ‘Killed Myself When I Was Young’, which as well as a Stoogesque rhythm and riff of 1969 vintage, is punctuated by “I Wanna Be Your Dog” piano and concludes with a blast of sax from the open doors of ‘Fun House’. While it’s hard to sustain the illusion that it’s still the late Seventies beyond the record’s playing time, it’s invigorating while it’s on. After nearly a half-century, the punk rock style is as valid and established as any other genre, albeit with its accompanying conventions. And at least sometimes , we too need the chance to run around and have fun.

Track Listing:-
1 Meet Me In The City
2 Crush On You
3 In A Dream (With A Fool Like You)
4 Teddy Bear
5 I Want You
6 Maybe
7 Monster
8 Dressed Right And Skinny
9 Joey
10 Killed Myself When I Was Young

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