Every now and then, along comes an act that just wants to rock. Recent reviewee Thadeus Gonzalez is a great example of someone who wants to bring the rawk, but Martyr Privates want to bring back some good old rock and roll. With a style that blend sixties sounds with eighties punk, the band churns out some solid jams on their new self-titled.
It’s easy to get a feel for their sound. Cameron Hawes has a distinct down-under tone that, combined with the four-on-the-floor beats, sounds like Johnny Ramone took a vacation to the Outback. “Toe the Plank” shows this well, as Hawes moans over dirty guitars and lazy grooves. There’s tones of Jimmy Eat World in songs like “Gold Chew,” where an ascending riff gives way to an Apple-commercial-worthy chorus (which is meant as a compliment). Where the band find their strength is this somewhat staid middle ground, downstrumming away at power chords and beating primal pulses.
Because of that comfort zone, there’s not much variety. There’s no doubt the band have a consistent style, but it’s almost as if they’ve hit copy and paste. “Toe the Plank” and “Something to Sell” both feature chord progressions that are quite similar, and Hawes’s monotone vocals make the distinction that much harder. “Yawning War” is a good example of a breakaway, finding the band exploring new instrument tones and a cleaner approach. The intro melody is easy on the ears and complements the vocals. Midway through, the song explodes into a full-band affair, taking it to the next level.
Here, Martyr Privates present a rock-solid rock record that hearkens back to the shuffling grooves of dirge-punk. They’re not trying to do anything but that, and they do very well to recreate the dirty-club environment through sound. If they push their limits, it’ll no doubt widen their spectrum. For now, don’t ask anything more of Martyr Privates than to be what it’s supposed to be.