Blending the unlikely bedfellows of melodic indie pop and sludgy noise rock, prolific Hamburg via Chicago threesome Auxes release their fourth album on German label Gunner Records. Thrashing out 11 songs in 30 minutes, Boys In My Head is a whistle-stop tour through punk, grunge and garage rock with hooks in all the right places yet never outstaying its welcome.
Initially conceived as a solo project by punk troubadour Dave Laney of Challenger and Milemarker, Auxes have managed the seemingly impossible and produced a cohesive record after making their way through eleven previous members on live and record leading up to this core trio of Laney on guitar and vocals, Florian Brandel on some deliciously fuzzy bass and backing vocals, and Manuel Wirtz on drums.
Straight out of the gates Auxes come on like Future Of The Left’s Andy Falkous fronting Nick Cave’s Grinderman, which is certainly no bad thing. In fact, the vocal similarity to Falkous is so uncanny during the opening track that I had to check I’d opened the right album instead of one of FOTL’s similarly noisey post-punk records. It’s more happy coincidence than copycat though, as Dave was releasing music on Jade Tree in the mid 90’s so certainly has the dues to back it up!
Lyrically, the album very much revolves around those classic punx subjects of suppression and kicking against authority. Remember when you used to play that game of counting how many ‘fucks’ there were on Limp Bizkit’s ‘Chocolate Starfish…’, or was that just me? Well, the sucker punch threesome of ‘Life In Their Television’, ‘Boom Boom Town’ and ‘Under Fire’ gives you ample opportunity to revisit such joys, especially the latter’s fabulous closing refrain of ‘fucking motherfuckers’! That’s not to say its lyrically unintelligent though, these guys just clearly love raging against ‘the man’, something so dearly missing from much of today’s watered-down radio-friendly punk rock. I guarantee you’ll be fist-pumping your way to your capitalist-friendly place of work should you choose to listen to this record on your daily commute.
Special mention must go to the drums on this album, which drive the music along at a ridiculous pace of well over 200 beats per minute in the thrashier numbers, never missing a beat but always finding an extra few for an impressive tom fill or breakneck snare roll. It’s certainly refreshing to hear a record that doesn’t tie itself to a click track or become a victim of heavy-handed Pro Tools use. Instead the intentionally flexible tempo changes on ‘I’ve Had Enough’ and ‘Under Fire’ convey a genuine garage band vibe and an admirably live production. That’s not to say the group aren’t tight though, this now stable line-up of Auxes have clearly benefited from life on the road together playing 200+ shows in 18 countries and sound like a solid unit.
Boys In My Head doesn’t break any new ground, but no one said it needed to. Sometimes all you need are visceral riffs, thundering drums and a shout-along chorus or two. Fans of Dave’s earlier work as well as slacker staples Hüsker Dü, The Melvins, or even The Hives’ earlier work will find much to appreciate in the short sharp bursts of anarchy in three chords contained within this album.
3.5 out of 5 high fives!