Review: Pale Angels – Strange Powers [EP]

Here’s a little treat for those of you who still hold fond memories of the hard edge of uncle Punk and not just his pleasant, bouncy nephew Pop-Punk. Pale Angels, the creation of Mike Santostefano (Crimes, ex-Static Radio NJ) and Jamie Morrison (The Arteries, Ssssnakes), apparently came into existence as Jamie and Mike threw together some live punked-up Nirvana covers in Florida. As long-time friends and touring partners, they must have known they were on to something, because they decided to go ahead and start life as a three-piece – even though they’d have an ocean separating them (Jamie is a Brit, Mike’s a Yank). But to be a three piece, they needed three people (yes, really) and that’s when Mikey Erg (Dopamines, Star Fucking Hipsters, and obviously The Ergs!) came into the picture. As if Mikey didn’t have enough to keep him busy. Well, the guys got together and bashed out the rough and raw Primal Play, 9 tracks of fist-clenched snare-snapping punk, but that’s not what we’re here to tell you about today.

Instead, Pale Angels gave us another taster of their grungey punk in the form of a four-track live session. Strange Powers was recorded in March with the Amsterdam Recording Company. Clocking in at under 10 minutes, as you’d expect from four punk songs, Pale Angels treat us to 3 brand new tracks and a cover of The Feelies’ Crazy Rhythms. The ever busy Mikey Erg wasn’t available for this session, which is no surprise when you look at the long list of his commitments, so Reza Mirehsan of The Cut Ups sat in for him behind the drums.

With a certain amount of nostalgia, Pale Angels blend grunge and punk into a raw and fuzzy brew that is easy and enjoyable to drink down in one gulp. Packed with a reverbed and muddied sound, it is a turbulent journey that isn’t just a rerun of one of the good old fashioned punk roads. It’s up-tempo, it’s catchy and it still has edge: it’s a pretty damn good punk jam! I especially love how the live sound translates across the recording. The production doesn’t take too much away or add too much in, so you still get the feeling that you’re front row at a show – minus the crowd of punks around you (unless you’re listening to it with a rowdy group of punks).

I also got a lot of joy out of the cover of The Feelies’ Crazy Rhythms too. The essence of the track is left unaltered, but it is given a gnarly facelift as part of the punk-grunge makeover. The distorted/distant vocals top it off and seal it in a package that can really get a punk’s feet movin’. The whole EP is manic, packed with punk jams and has the energy of a live show, so check it out!

4 out of 5 high fives!

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