ALBUM REVIEW: The OBGMs – The Ends (Black Box Recordings)

Canadian punk trio The OBGMs come from the same Toronto scene as PUP and Fucked Up, but remain something of a rarity.

That’s because they’re fronted by a black man, and in a scene noted for its diversity, that’s still uncommon.

The Ends, which comes three years after the band’s self-titled debut album, is a short, sharp blast of energy, which sees The OBGMs (short for The oOoh Baby Gimme Mores) blaze through 10 songs in 24 minutes.

Produced by the award winning Dave Schiffman (Trash Talk, PUP, Rage Against The Machine), it wears the band’s influences (and their producer’s) on its sleeve.

The OBGMs. Pic by @savebee.

Vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane admits it’s not a cheery record: “This album is about death, wanting to die, and fighting for something to live for – it’s the end of all things.”

It bursts into life with the single Outsah, packed with insistent guitar riffs and tribal beats courtesy of drummer Colanthony Humphrey. He’s a versatile player, capable of a range of different styles – probably down to the band’s roots as a hip-hop outfit.

Bassist Joseph Brosnan locks in perfectly to complete a tight rhythm section, while McFarlane throws out the sort of distorted riffs you’d expect from disaffected white suburban kids.

An intensity runs right through the record, particularly the combative Fight Song, and standout track All My Friends, which sits somewhere between Weezer and Nirvana.

It’s not all noisy angst though: To Death has dreamy vocals which recall Blur, while Not Again is a slice of frenzied garage-rock which The Strokes would be proud of.

The OBGMs look again to NYC for Karen O’s, named after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer, and while there’s plenty of power here, there’s lots of nuance too, often within the same song, such as the closing Move On, which is another highlight.

McFarlane is aware The OBGMs are different: “This is a black-fronted punk band, and that’s really important. Rock n’ roll is mostly white suburban kids. But we are black and we out here.

The OBGMs. Pic by @savebeee.

“I was inspired to make rock music when I saw a black guy on stage, and if someone sees that in us, I hope it will inspire a new generation to go after this.

“You can love us or hate us. I’m aiming for that. We’d prefer the love – we’re full of love – but I’d rather you hate me than feel indifference.”

There’s too much hate in the world right now, so why don’t you give this album of thoroughly modern genre-bending punk a spin and spread a little more love? 8/10.

The OBGMs. Pic by Amanda Fotes.
Gary Welford
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