It’s been another stellar year for Exeter-based Specialist Subject Records, with releases by Doe, Shit Present and Muncie Girls (among many) excelling. Yet, like sharks, there’s a sense with record labels that if they don’t keep moving forward, they’ll eventually die.
Indie-rocking duo American Enthusiasm are the latest gem to be unearthed by the taste makers, and while ‘Holy Wow’ might be released with one eye on 2017, it shows the evolution of a label that continues to make great strides forward.
Whisky-soaked and ragged, there’s a grittiness to ‘Holy Wow’ that is apparent right from the off. Not quite lo-fi, not quite blues and not quite garage rock, tracks like ‘Limbaud’ and ‘Vote’ fester with an open wound rawness thick with dirt and pus and blood. It’s striking stuff, sparse and sombre, but sharp enough to not become maudlin.
Over the course of seven songs, the fragile intensity would surely get too much. Yet American Enthusiasm know when to kick into overdrive, adding a hazy sun-streaked sheen to their downbeat tales. Opener ‘Holy Wow’ and ‘Lift It Off’ come off like Two Gallants ripping through Japandroids’ back catalogue and it’s as invigorating and exciting as it sounds, while ‘Smile and Wave’ possesses the same storytelling nous as former Blake Baby and Lemonhead John Strohm at his freewheeling best.
There’s also a real edge to Sam Bedford’s vocals, meaning you could listen to him moan and mumble and wail his way through any number of songs and it would never lose its lustre. If 2017 is set to be another big year for Specialist Subject, expect American Enthusiasm to be at the front of the charge.
’Holy Wow’ by American Enthusiasm is released on 9th December on Specialist Subject Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)