Modern rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t get much trashier, dirtier or more frantic than Charlotte, N.C.’s Paint Fumes. These guys seem to live the results of huffing their name, spewing reckless rowdiness with a dizzying fury from every song.
Uck Life is the garage-rock-rooted band’s debut LP, and it’s a balls-to-the-wall explosion of energetic grit and grime. Frontman Elijah von Cramon’s shouts and howls are too fiery to decipher, and paired with the frenetic riffs and drummer Josh Johnson’s relentless fast-paced pounding the sound threatens to blast out your eardrums even at low volume.
Paint Fumes left a mark in my memory at the last Atlanta Mess-Around. It was early afternoon at 529, the daylight still streaming in to the hazy club. But von Cramon and company were long since up an’ at ‘em. Or maybe they hadn’t slept. Who knows? During their raucous set, cans of beer soared above like party missiles, and one of them nailed a friend of mine square in the nose. A girl who was part of the Paint Fumes posse hopped onstage, dancing wildly and whipping her hair about. Within a few seconds she was topless, still hopping around and vibrating like a madwoman. It was the second day of the weekend fest and most folks were still trying to shake off hangovers. Paint Fumes’ set was a kick in the face, a blaring, tinnitus-inducing alarm to wake up the weaklings.
The album is as much a bewildering blitz as their live show. The individual sonic romps are so equally assaulting it’s hard to tell them apart. But that’s not a complaint: It’s rare that an LP is so wholly listenable from start to finish. And there actually are differences between the songs, of course. The title track employs a piercing tone, “Walking Song” shows off a surf-rock side and “999” is dark and bleak in melody like the soundtrack to a midnight tombstone-defacing party in a haunted graveyard. “Sevol Natas” is introduced with a chilled-out air organ but quickly crescendos into Paint Fumes’ signature mania.
That’s mainly what’s so noteworthy about Uck Life. Paint Fumes have crafted a sound that’s all their own, and they’re only on their first album. Few bands are so self-assured and cohesive this early on. One Paint Fumes song is pretty much any other Paint Fumes song. You know it when you hear it – or when your body involuntarily does that rock ‘n’ roll seizure dance, rather.