On Ragweed’s Bandcamp page they outline their goal as follows: “to create a filthy, ear ringing, uncensored breed of pop that, for reasons you can’t explain, you love deep down.” They’re not lying. Double Chalker is raw like a sore blister, but somewhere beneath the Therapy?-inspired buzzsaw riffs and the guttural punk rock screams lie a band who, if they can’t burst your eardrums, will at least place a damn catchy tune in them.
You’re forgiven to think the EP starts like Nirvana’s timeless “Scentless Apprentice”, but it’s quickly apparent from the hardcore maelstrom that follows on “Mind Bottling” we’re talking an even more abrasive beast. Forget Kurt Cobain smashing his Fender in drag, this is Kurt Cobain bludgeoning a guinea pig with his Strat while dressed in Nazi uniform. It’s brutal stuff, and not for the more casual listener, but fans of early Therapy? and similar noise rock will take it to their hearts.
Second track “Habit” follows a similar routine – the intro makes you think of skate punk bands like Pennywise and Rancid, but then: oh wait there’s that dead guinea pig again. On this track it’s worth noting the deceptively impressive musicianship of drummer Nick Spooner, whose machine gun drum fills do well to create the let’s-batter-our-listener-into-a-pulp atmosphere that pervades this record.
The Distillers feature prominently as an influence here too, not least during the third track “New Tricks”. Vocalist Tom’s angsty drawls during the verses are almost a mirror of the dirtier side of Brody Dalle, but midway through the track suddenly morphs to a bass / drum jam. It’s a brilliantly mischievous piece of song craft which provides a (comparatively) brief respite from all the noise, but it’s not long before we’re back with the jagged guitars, hammering drums and earth-shaking bass.
It’s a template this most uncompromising of bands is willing to stick to and very capably as well – put in a deceptively calm piece of pop rock, then blow the listener’s cochlea clean off. Two minutes and fifteen seconds into closer “Fat Collapse” we have a splendid (for lack of a better word) summation of what this band’s about. A perfectly-reasonable Pixies-esque melody plays for about eight bars, and then turns into a section I can only describe as Metallica’s “Motorbreath” being played through a blender.
If it sounds all a bit nasty, then it’s safe to say this record isn’t quite for your delicate ears. But if you like your rock unrefined, ill-behaved and most importantly of all, louder than a rocket engine, this abrasive three-piece Brighton band might just be the best new thing you’ve heard in a long while.