Drenge — Undertow
♠ Drenge are Rory Loveless and Eoin Loveless. Undertow is the follow up to their acclaimed self–titled debut album, released in summer 2013. Written and recorded on tour last year, and between their hometown of Castleton and Sheffield, where the band now live, Undertow was produced by Ross Orton and, for the first time, features a third member, Rob Graham, playing bass on three songs; Graham joins the band for live shows.
Formed: 2011 in Castleton, Derbyshire, UK
Location: Castleton, Derbyshire, UK
Album release: Apr 07, 2015
Record Label: Infectious Music UK / ADA
01 Introduction 1:12
02 Running Wild 3:45
03 Never Awake 3:32
04 We Can Do What We Want 2:56
05 Favourite Son 2:27
06 The Snake 4:00
07 Side By Side 3:35
08 The Woods 3:33
09 Undertow 2:41
10 Standing In the Cold 5:36
11 Have You Forgotten My Name? 4:23
℗ 2015 Infectious Music UK
Personnel: Rory Loveless (drums) and Eoin Loveless (lead guitar), Rob Graham (bass guitar) / Producer: Ross Orton
By Leonie Cooper, March 24, 2015, Score: 9/10
♦ The Loveless brothers add a bass player and a dash of classic rock to their sinister and gripping second album
♦ When their self–titled debut clattered out of the Derbyshire village of Castleton in August 2013, it was clear that Drenge were troublemakers of the very best kind. ♦ Stroppy, pale–faced brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless looked committed to near–vampirical levels of sun avoidance. They boshed out a thrilling, no–nonsense racket borne of the frustration of living in isolated countryside. ‘Drenge’’s controlled explosions of adolescent rage and small–town ennui were exciting, but there was a worry of one–dimensionality, of imminent burnout after such monumental punk–ass moaning.
♦ Over a year and a half later, Drenge are still mighty pissed off, but they’ve channelled that mardiness into impressive progression. Album number two sees them team up again with Ross Orton — who, based in his studio next door to a knocking shop on the outskirts of Sheffield, seems to have worked with the city’s entire musical population, co–producing Arctic Monkeys' 'AM', working with Richard Hawley on Monkeys’ B–side 'You And I' and playing on Jarvis Cocker's two solo albums. Under Orton’s guidance, the Loveless brothers — who themselves recently moved to Sheffield — are unabashedly wading into classic rock waters as well as holding firm to their garage roots.
♦ Drenge might have ditched the sticks, but there’s still a dogged commitment to keeping things local. ‘The Woods’ — the best thing they’ve written — is not just a beautifully evil bastard of a song, but one that sees them trudging through neighbouring landmarks (“Burn my body by the banks of the Derwent”), quoting the Lord’s Prayer ( “Lead us not into temptation/but deliver us from evil”) and cribbing from ‘Rumours’ era Fleetwood Mac on what is the most epic powerhouse guitar solo of 2015 so far. ‘Have You Forgotten My Name?’ boasts similar geographical amblings (“We lit a fire on the moors/To watch the purple heather and the gorse/Go up in smoke”) and so much drum thwacking and stadium–sized guitar widdling that it seems ready to break out into ‘The Chain’.
♦ This isn’t so much a progression as a rebirth. Sonically, the touchstones are also kept to mainland Britain. With a growling rhythm but strangely cutesy lyrics (“I wanna be hugged and I wanna be kissed/I don't wanna be fucked I just wanna be his”), ‘Favourite Son’ might initially seem like a Nirvana pastiche, but it’s indebted to the grot–abilly of Brighton’s Eighties Matchbox B–Line Disaster.
♦ Where ‘Drenge’ offered brutal bloodshed and casual violence, ‘Undertow’ is much more focused on sneaking malevolence. The addition of bass guitar, played by Rob Graham — old friend and ex of blues–rock duo Wet Nuns — on ‘The Snake’, pulsing QOTSA–style instrumental ‘Undertow’ and the decidedly mean ‘Side By Side’, not only beefs up Drenge’s sound, but adds a depth of emotion that carries throughout this gripping record. Like a well–paced thriller, we skip from moody scene–setters (the Danzig–on–a–day–trip of ‘Never Awake’) to the likes of full–throttle comeback single ‘We Can Do What We Want’, which makes a rare excursion into a major key for some Buzzcocks punk carnage.
♦ ‘Undertow’ doesn’t just make Drenge sound like the UK's most brilliantly disorderly band, it makes the Peak District seem utterly sinister place, full of gun–toting deviants in North Face jackets and cream–tea–guzzling car–jackers. Consider our train tickets booked. Fortaken: http://www.nme.com/reviews/drenge/15996
REVIEW BY JOHN PLATT, 31 MARCH 2015, 13:30 BST, SCORE: 8.5/10
♠ Drenge came from Castleton with a bullet. Their debut album bristled with intent, a thirty eight minute slug of noise and brio. Songs arrived with one idea, took two minutes to pound it into your skull, then kicked down the door on their way out. That this racket came from a two piece straight out of a sixth form talent show was part of its charm; it was all adolescent frustration, two brothers fighting to pierce the country air. But there was always the risk that on its follow up the songs would be a little quieter, the frames a little fatter, the band more sedate. If they lost that edge, the music might follow suit. Before their Letterman performance I pictured a cooing agent backstage giving them high fives and talking ‘brand Drenge’. This was not the case.
♠ In their three piece form, they are as possessed as ever, and Undertow retains all their hangdog spirit. Pleasingly, they’ve kept it local; working with Ross Orton in the Sheffield studio that produced AM, two albums by Jarvis Cocker and one by M.I.A. has worked wonders. It’s far from polished, but the instrumentation is thicker, and the addition of the bass makes it sound almost orchestral after that scrappy one–two of guitar and drums.
♠ "Introduction" sets the tone, eddies of feedback mix with reverb and plucked guitar, giving way to "Running Wild" and its cavernous, strutting riffs. The vocal is rubbed smooth, here and on "Never Awake"; Eoin croons balefully over death–rattle drums and a thick layer of fuzz. It’s a deftness of touch that gives an entirely new dimension to their sound, lush yet sinister; echoing and expansive.They still have the knack of turning pop hooks into punk riffs however; lead single "We Can Do What We Want" channels The Stooges in a frenzied romp, and they barely pause for breath before gleefully battering their instruments on "Favourite Son": Eoin spits verbs behind rasping guitar and Rory’s powerhouse drums. That knack for groove shines throughout; on highlight "The Woods" in particular, which sounds like playing Tango in the Night at a séance. Its near poppiness sums up their transformation and they pull it off with aplomb; integrating a muscular, straightforward solo and singalong harmonies, whilst remaining recognisably Drenge.
♠ The underdog, scattergun rock and roll on their debut was visceral, but on Undertow, exuberance has been replaced with clarity of purpose and an almost grim determination. This newfound confidence, and the range of sound that comes with it, has enabled them to do more with their music, creating a mood and conjuring with definite themes. Transgression (see "We Can Do What We Want" and "Running Wild") and (an often ambiguous) sexuality packaged with characteristic bloodlust (see "Favourite Son", "The Snake" and "Side by Side") are their touchstones, all intertwined with dense forests of fuzz. It’s a disquieting picture, and I find myself drawn to the album artwork, that abandoned car, the dark forest. There is often nothing directly disturbing in either the art or the music, but it’s an indirect, psychological violence that comes in what isn’t said. The music on Undertow describes the grim happenings beyond its cover.
♠ And it’s testament that they paint pictures now. It comes to a head in "Standing in the Cold", with the lyrics “you wanted my heart, for its little work / I was half your age, and I thought we were in love / then I found your car, it was already burnt / your eyes stung like stained glass windows / but you had my soul”. It’s every inch the grisly end to the story they have painted, with sure footed progression, and unflinching talent. Their second album continues the work of the first, a yardstick for the heavy guitar sound, and is in its own way as hard hitting, visceral and effortlessly brilliant. An endorsement ringing like my ears. :: http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
Artist Biography by Aneet Nijjar
♠ Hailing from the English village of Castleton, brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless formed Drenge (taken from the Danish word for "boys") whilst in their mid–teens. With Eoin on lead guitar and vocals and Rory on drums, their raw grunge–inspired blues pop sound was cultivated from the countryside landscape and their desire to escape from it. Drawing upon similar themes of boredom and rage, the brothers released a clutch of singles on Infectious Records throughout 2013 to critical acclaim. ♠ The brothers soon found themselves surprisingly in the headlines when British Labour MP Tom Watson name checked them in his resignation letter from the Shadow Cabinet in July 2013. The pair embarked on an extensive tour schedule that year too, with appearances at Glastonbury Festival and Latitude being well–received. Their self–titled debut album was released in August 2013. Following their first headlining tour, Drenge recorded their second LP Undertow which they announced after making their American television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman in January 2015. Undertow arriveded three months later in April of that year. © Rory and Eoin Loveless, Drenge @ Shep Bush, 06 12 13