Album Reviews

The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries: Suns Out Guns Out – “wicked concoctions of outlaw rock”

The underground stalwarts return with more hits.

Drummer/vocalist, Chris Brokaw (Codeine, Come, The Lemonheads et al), has been busy, not least releasing his fine solo offering, Puritan, earlier this year (more on that here).

Vocalist/guitarist, Elisha Wiesner plies his trade with Massachusetts sextet, Kahoots (also of which features Brokaw), while bassist/vocalist, Bob Weston provides those boulder-down-the-hill bass lines for Shellac, as well as fucking shit up from behind the soundboards with the venerable Mission Of Burma. He’s also produced hallmark albums from Polvo and Rodan, runs a mastering company, and does a swathe of other stuff that most indie-heads are probably aware of.

The three aforementioned specimens form The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries; an underground super-group of sorts, which saw the release of their first EP, 2010’s In The Pond, and debut LP, Mass Grave, which followed in 2013.

Like most bands comprising members of this vintage, life gets in the way; off-shoot projects, kids, you name it. Despite possessing what is perhaps the best band name ever, The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries are no different.

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Dotted around various parts of the United States, Suns Out Guns Out is the band’s anticipated second album. It’s probably what you’d come to expect when guys of this musical pedigree get together and belt out a clamour. Tight, loud, and pretty much just fucking good.

The Martha's Vineyard Ferries - Suns Out Guns Out

The fun starts with MC Modern, a sinister mock-marching band strut that echoes Shellac‘s End Of Radio.

The galloping chords during Betty Ford James and Chalk It Up to Island Time are wicked concoctions of outlaw rock. The former so good, it’s reprised later in the album; the only difference being six seconds and a full-stop in the song title.

Betty Ford James is a premise for Jail Material, which lifts the spirits of those slowcore laments Brokaw wrote with Codeine. He and the band go right back there too, with The Daily Biscuit and Ida Sez. Songs that revel in one of the ’90s most decorated periods.

“I could write a book about all the drugs I took,” sings Wiesner on After You. A humorous break-up waltz that portrays the kind humour Weston has spent years shaping with Shellac.

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Then there’s Washing the Water. A song that sees The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries leaving their best for last. “I feel your pain and I want you to feel mine,” sings Wiesner in a song that brims with Weston‘s watermark bass rumbles that collide with untamed harmonics. It’s the kind of the song that harks back to the finest moments Silkworm gave us.

And that’s where we arrive with Suns Out Guns Out. In the world of Silkworm and, of course, the remnants of Bottomless Pit. No bad thing, considering we’re all in need of a fix since the latter’s last record, Shade Perennial.

Suns Out Guns Out is no real surprise, however in a world that’s thrown far too many of those in the last 18 months, it’s good to hear an artist stand firm in their traditions and The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries do just that.

It’s the sound of mates getting together and having a whale of a time.

Suns Out Guns Out is out now via Ernest Jenning Record Co. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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