Punk isn’t just the sound of not giving a f#%& (although it often is that as well). It can also be a vehicle for social and political change, a roaring clatter that addresses current issues and strives to shine a light on neglected topics. Just look at bands like X-Ray Spex and Bad Brains for a clear indication of the wide range of ideas that can be explored within the confines of punk rock. The clash of guitars, bass and drums can merge with verbal veracity and create something that rings true and can reach the hearts of even the most disaffected of listeners.
For Chattanooga punkers Snarky, the genre is a means to share their raucous musical ideology and leave your ears ringing for a few days. Their brand of vicious and melodic punk rock hearkens back to the late ’70s when New York was a grimy collection of dive bars and corner venues where like-minded bands could grab a few bucks and channel a primal rage that often housed a maniacal intensity. But Snarky isn’t simply a throwback to those glory days; they’re carving out a distinct niche in punk rock’s history that belongs only to them.
On their new self-titled cassette (released on local label Lifer Tapes), the band tears through a punk rock rebellion, filled with clanging guitar riffs and explosive bouts of percussion. Opening with the classic punk echo of “Backseat Basics,” they storm through 10 tracks of rock noise in just over 20 minutes, with their brevity being a mark of their reverence for the genre. Vocal cords are strained, instruments are left in pieces, and punk rock retains its vitriol in today’s musical landscape.
Other highlights include “Broken Strings” and “Tattletale,” which both recall the work of riot grrrl bands who first shared their punk sprawl from around Olympia, Washington, in the early ’90s. With this collection, Snarky provides ample proof that punk is alive and well in Chattanooga. They show that volume isn’t the driving force behind their work; it’s simply an evolving agency of their music.
And after having seen the band open for Waxahatchee and Ought some weeks ago, it’s fair to say that their live show isn’t to be missed, as it’s built around a dense, howling mass of screams and caustic rhythms that you really need to experience. And with this cassette, they’ve now got physical proof that they can channel the spirits of punk rock on tape as well as onstage.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.