ALBUM REVIEW: The Drowns – Under Tension (Pirates Press Records)

I stumbled upon The Drowns, who were a new name to me, at Rebellion Festival 2019 in Blackpool, and immediately liked their energetic brand of streetpunk, which was delivered with real conviction.

A little research revealed they’re punk scene veterans from Seattle and Los Angeles who have only been together a couple of years, but have played in bands including Madcap, Time Again, Success and The Briggs.

They released their debut album View From The Bottom on Gunner Records in 2018, and they’ve barely paused for breath since, touring all over the world and releasing a standalone single, The Sound/Bricks Of Ol’ Rainier, also on Pirates Press.

This follow-up is produced by Ted Hutt, who has worked with the likes of Dropkick Murphys, Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly and Street Dogs, and he’s captured their ballsy live sound perfectly.

It’s 11 slices of fast-paced punk rock ‘n’ roll, which will appeal to fans of bands like Cock Sparrer and Bouncing Souls as well as the alma mater mentioned above.

It opens in scorching style with Black Lung, and the pace doesn’t let for the next half an hour as they tear through a set which has a real swagger throughout.

Aaron Rev’s gravelly vocals gives The Drowns a distinctive sound, particularly on songs like the single Hold Fast (reviewed here), which has a real air of menace.

There’s not a dud track here, but my favourites include the catchy-as-hell Cue The Violins and Wolves On The Throne, a super slice of melodic punk with great choruses which reminds me of the The Briggs.

There’s a nod to some of their influences with a breakneck version of Jimmy Cliff’s reggae classic The Harder They Come, and it’s reminscent of The Clash doing Toots And The Maytals’ Pressure Drop, but The Drowns really don’t need to be doing covers, as their own material is so strong.

The Drowns at Rebellion 2019 in Blackpool. Pic: Gary Welford.

The record ends in style with another of its strongest songs, Battery Street, about the filling in of the tunnel which provided shelter for many of Seattle’s homeless until it was filled in a couple of years ago.

It’s only January, but this is already shaping up to be one of my favourite albums of the year, and I can’t wait to see them again at Rebellion 2020. 8/10.

Gary Welford owner