Ain’t No Grave are a band that gives a fuck. Over a bare-bones framework of two guitars and drums, they render their values and beliefs in the starkest of possible lyrical and musical terms. Like a fading black and white photograph, they offer a glimpse into a lost world, a place where moral principles and integrity are the essential components in the act of creation. They remind us that the first and chief responsibility of punk rock is to stand for something, to represent an alternative to the jaundiced, codified, hypnotized society that we all live in. This is the band that will break those spells, if you let them. In their willful reconstitution of punk rock and country, they have merged two genres where dignity and morality rank high, and where outlaws are usually the only real heroes. They have gathered all the fringe characters of these two potent forms into a rogue’s gallery of beautiful miscreants, drunken poets, and gutter philosophers.
Ain’t No Grave launch their debut with fried-out amp buzz and a lonely guitar phrase, like a mysterious stranger riding over the horizon, beyond landscape that is all heat and dust. “Freedom” lurches to life like an undead buzzard, taking flight into a windstorm. Between the bouncing guitars and the ramshackle drums, a story is slowly unfolded. Gather around the campfire, and Ain’t No Grave will tell you a tale…
“Get ‘Em” is where the story begins, with our heroes run out of town for some un-named offence. The chase is on, and if the ride is swift, then there is no need to hide. Our heroes just need to get far away enough to melt into the mountains, to recede into the desert, camouflaged with death and decay.
“It’s Not The End” finds us hopping a train, bruised and blinded by heat and dust. With a triumphant Strummer-esque yowl, they drag their ragged carcasses onto the boxcar, falling into a dead sleep, their clothes stained with blood. But they sleep not…
…for the “Backlash” awaits. A sinister guitar lick signals impending doom, and with a steadily mounting crescendo, like a pack of wolves growing ever nearer, the desert looms before us. Stretched out like a river running through a mirrored hall of infinite repetition, the landscape itself shudders for a moment before being sucked into a sonic black hole.
On the other side, we “Fall Into The Sun”. A glowing paradise of country-rock, punctuated with joyfully distorted vocals, the song becomes substantial only for a moment before disappearing. Illusory and fun, it’s the one spot of sunshine in this somewhat shadowy world.
Next up is their rager, a ripped-up slice of defiance called “What’s the Fuken Score.” With a classic alternating major-minor chord progression, like an evil doo-wop song, the song propels itself forward on the back of frustration and revolutionary fervor. There’s a mid-song break where the possibilities of the future are glimpsed, like the sun dissolving a mist, and then we are back on our knees, scraping dirt for The Man. But this ode has a frenetic, crazed companion piece called ‘Save The Fuken World”, a wordless anthem for anyone who finds themselves needing one.
“I Wanna Change” is revolutionary sloganeering at its best. “Give a fuck” they sing repeatedly, a mantra for those being slowly drawn into apathy. With a nod to their hometown and their punk roots, the band gathers all their friends together to crush indifference with the simple, pure passion of unrestrained human hearts, creating a new world together out of hopeful bones and broken tin cans.
“For the Billions” lays out the values of this new world, in a lengthy lament soaked in anger. In a voice pushed to the very edge of sanity, Ain’t No Grave howls out the falsity of the modern world, jarring us out of apathy and into a direct action for the preservation of the very human qualities that society seeks to repress.
“Sadistic Ritual Abuse” opens with a weird jump-cut of psychedelic ambivalence, before coming on like The Cramps covering Howlin’ Wolf. Vocals grind like sandpaper over a haunting country/blues groove, with a descending motif at the end of each phrase which pulls you down like you have bricks on your feet. A few howling verses and we’re gone, back to the places we will always be trying to escape. When you need respite, Ain’t No Grave will be there to inspire and incense, to be the fly in the ointment that all good punk rock should be.
Ain’t No Grave are:
Jon Lafleche – Guitar
Jeff Plourde – Drums
Thomas White – Baritone Guitar