For fans of weird 60’s horror punk vibes and raw textures, you might like Shitbats out of Hamilton, ON, because of course, they’re from the hammer. For fans of overthinking for potentially oversimplified music, you might like this review. Eight song first full length giving you some love for Jim Carrey comedies by the name of Guano on the gogo.
Shitbats do what is seemingly becoming more and more popular among punk acts. Ambient and freaky aesthetics most commonly know to the psychobilly side of the fence, which usually comes with a side of 60’s style jazz crooning, all while reminding you that they’re punk as fuck with raw dogged recording techniques bearing fruit to mega muffed bass sections smashing their head over dry gainy guitars and live room drums. Think any of your favorite rockabilly bands, we’ll say The Creepshow for generalized ease of accessibility, but if they crawled in a teleportation dothingy with Jeff Goldblum and thus violently created one of his infamous jazz records. Yes, I referenced both The Fly and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra and no I don’t care if you enjoyed it or not.
Guano checks a whole ton of boxes and leaves a few emotions to be desired like any other artist is forced to in imperfection. These tunes are interesting (though they lack ever so slightly in snag factor for me personally), they create a mood and an environment, and they’re part of a continually growing trend of fusing these outdated supposed surf punk vibes (which are really just fucking jazz, accept it) with the nasty filthy punk rock we’ve always known and adored, all flavored with “old-school” clothes and tones in an attempt to be ambient and fucking freaky. It genuinely works for these Hammertown homies, but this is where the perpetual conversation of “Am I just not punk enough?” comes in. You may enjoy these hollowed-out tones and crunchy cheap headphone feels where I most certainly do not. I’m a firm believer that sound evolved from this for the purpose of clarity and quality.
I hear raw skill here on all fronts, most especially in the vocal section, all ever so slightly stunted into annoyance with what sounds like it was recorded on old fuckin Shure 55 series out of whatever decade you so please it because you’re not supposed to record fucking music on those things. The bass section has a nasty tendency of overcrowding (which is so fucking common with punk and we all know it), the guitars could absolutely benefit from a bigger bite, and the drum section honestly depends on just how raw you like your recordings. All that to say, I’m still interested in seeing what comes from here as I’m almost certain the beloved Montreal Pouzza Fest is eventually going to have to devote an entire venue to this style that these cats have very obviously put a whole lot of heart and attention into. I also can’t say I’m complaining about it.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate