Reviews:: Karmic Whiplash The Nervous System

What's that old adage? Never judge a book by it's cover. In this case, never judge a band by a bad name and a cover that looks like it was designed for some Gorf rip-off game you programmed on your Vic 20. When the Karmic Whiplash (shiver) record - The Nervous System - arrived in my mailbox, and I was more than a bit skeptical.

From the black and white cover with the old skool computer font, I thought this record was going to be full of synths, crunch and well, terribleness. Instead, Brendan Themes has written a record full of quick, hard hitting folk rock, influenced heavily by the likes of Billy Bragg and other folk punks. He gets some help from Travis Lund (who fills in some holes with drums, guitar and mandolin), but the majority of the record is Brendan and his acoustic.

The record is not going to blow your mind with originality, but it will certainly entertain you. It's full of driving guitar riffs and the subtle sneer of Brendan's voice works well. Unlike a lot of folk artists, The Karmic Whiplash believes in brevity. The songs show up, make a point and never stay too long (only two songs break the three minute mark).

The record opens with Winter City, and it sets the tone for the whole album. The hard strummed acoustic is backed by big drum fills and cymbal crashes. The energy is peaked and you want to keep listening. Detox takes on a more traditional folk sound, complete with harmonica but Getting To No jumps back to the frantic strums and guitar strums.

The album flows pretty smoothly (to be honest a lot of the songs have similar structure), but there are some stand outs. Quiet uses a nice drum machine to freshen up Brendan's vocals and Broken sort of drifts into the Misfits realm (I almost expected to hear Themes yell I turned into a Martian or toss in a few woah-oh-ohs). Continuing in the older punk vibe, Black and White reminds me of one of those old Screeching Weasel acoustic numbers (especially when he admits, "love is a virus").

Karmic Whiplash definitely fills a void in this former punk rockers listening habits, and you could do a lot worse than downloading a few of the tracks.

MP3:: Black and White
MP3:: Quiet
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