Album Reviews

Swami John Reis: Ride the Wild Night

The Hot Snakes member releases his debut solo album.

It’s been some start to the year for John Reis.

Prior to the brilliant debut album from PLOSIVS – the supergroup including Reis, singer/guitarist Rob Crow (Pinback), drummer Atom Willard (Against Me!, Rocket From The Crypt) and bassist Jordon Clark (Mrs. Magician), in February to little fanfare, the Hot Snakes/ Rocket From The Crypt/ Drive Like Jehu mainstay released his much-anticipated debut solo album as Swami John Reis, Ride the Wild Night.

With clinical precision, Ride the Wild Night is delivered from someone who knows all their strengths and plays to them emphatically. With his trademark scuffed-on-asphalt vocals and thunderous riffs, Reis dispenses hit after hit right here.

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Lyrically, you won’t find a more honest snapshot than Ride the Wild Night. In many ways, it holds the kind of stories that would get one cancelled these days (I Ain’t Your Pawn, Do You Still Wanna Make Out?). However, there is a deeper significance beyond the surface of these songs. This is Reis reporting from the end of the bar (When I Kicked Him the Face), or in his own words, “what I hear through my own fence,” per his latest interview with Tinnitus.

With the same kind of brazenness that made us fall in love with Hot Snakes, Reis is unafraid to provide commentary on the unsavoury behaviour that still blights society and impinges on progression. An artist taking risks by exploring the sleazy and grimiest corners of the world, this is songwriting at its most candid.

Swami John Reis - Ride the Wild Night

With a swathe of guests including fellow Hot Snake J. Sinclair on drums, Gar Wood, Joe Guevara on piano, Chris Prescott (Pinback), Glen Galloway (Truman’s Water), the above-noted Clark and his Mrs. Magician bandmate, Jacob Turnbloom, Ride the Wild Night starts with the eponymous track. An arms aloft frenzy that is anthemic redefined. Your senses flashing with a rush of reds and yellows with a piano line that rides across the fault lines. 

Later on, Days of Auld Lang Syne, Rip from the Bone and We Broke the News are like the worlds of punkability and heartland rock colliding, with the added tonal swerves that Reis has made his own over the years.

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Then there’s I Hate My Neighbours in the Yellow House. Guevara’s Nicky Hopkins treatment on piano and Sinclair’s shimmering percussion pull the song through to a dynamic new landscape. All told, this is Ride the Wild Night’s finest moment.

And with the blues punk groove of Vape in the Dark Alone and The Kinks-inspired hooks of Keepers of the Place, the backend of Ride the Wild Night continues on the crest of the wave made by I Hate My Neighbours in the Yellow House.

Bursting with direct vigour, on Ride the Wild Night Reis plays on instinct and applies the goods in what is an album for all concerns. Dispense some civic vitality whilst driving through your neighbourhood; annoy your next door neighbours with it; let it consume you on your daily walk. The same results will ensue every time. One thing is critical, though. Turn up the volume keep it there.

Ride the Wild Night is out now via Swami Records. Purchase here.

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.

4 replies on “Swami John Reis: Ride the Wild Night”

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