With there being plenty of music about these days that’s been polished to within an inch of its life, it’s a breath of fresh air (if air that has been carried across about 4 decades can be considered fresh) to hear gritty old-time rock n’ roll. Eight Knives have made themselves a back-to-basics hip-shaker of a début and have blown the dust off of bluesy licks and swaggering riffs. Reinventing the wheel they haven’t, but Maiden Names is a fair effort on bringing the past up to date in a similar manner to Jack White.
Things get going with lead single Levels And Lovers. It starts off as a raucous affair, with a dirty-toned guitar chopping and a-changing, making the half-speed chorus sound refined by comparison and giving the already-punchy middle-eight added power to its thump. It’s as punk as the album gets, with the straight-up rhythm making way for infectious grooves on the tracks that follow. It doesn’t get much more infectious than on Off To County Jail, where the combination of a simple lick and a killer vocal line makes for a hook that won’t be leaving that nodding head of yours for a good few days. Secondly It Fell Away sees the band taking a folk rock approach, with drums tumbling behind the minimal chords that make up the track. It’s a change of pace that gives the album a bit more depth.
That brings us onto the main gripe: parts of the album merge into one another, leaving certain tracks on the wayside; (I Know) My Babe Said So sounds tired and Hell And A Half is just there to make up the numbers. Eight Knives may have the knack for writing indie-rock tunes, but they knacker it out long before the album reaches its end. When there’s the likes of Tokyo Poison showing the band on top form, the likes of No Money ‘Til Monday just don’t cut it.
In those tracks that do cut it, there’s still plenty to smile about. Maiden Names may be let down by a lack of variety, but its infectiousness is undeniable. It’s compulsive, it’s dancefloor gold and it’s down-right filthy in parts. If you like your indie to have a bit more of an edge about it, then this album is what you need.
Standout Track: Tokyo Poison
For Fans Of: White Stripes, Vampire Weekend, early Kings Of Leon
Written by: Ryan Williams.