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Album Review
Is This Anything?

Is This Anything?
by Transistors

Arch Hill Records

Review Date
12th August 2013
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

Rangiora Princes of Punk, Transistors have finally released their sophomore record and it would seem they're pretty keen on your opinion; Is This Anything? James (Guitar, Vocals), Ollie (Drums, Vocals) and Colin (Bass, Vocals) have made impressive progress since their first record, 2009's Shortwave. Touring slots with The Buzzcocks and Guitar Wolf will no doubt have added a new depth and different take on their songwriting and sound but you won't hear any of that on this record. According to Olly, most songs on the album were written before their recent successes, which will feature predominantly on future records.

What that means is Is This Anything? should encapsulate a moment in time before the wave broke. Before the three kids from Canterbury making a whole lotta noise in a town with almost nothing to do, took on the world proper. Transistors 2.0 will have a lot to live up to as well as they've set the bar pretty high with this effort.

Recorded over a week-long stay in a North Canterbury farm cottage and clocking in at suitably distilled 34 minutes of straight up punk rock, Is This Anything? evokes everything that's great about Kiwi punk music. That is, a self-deprecating sense of fun offset by bouts of concentrated isolationism. 'Knee Jerk Jerk' and 'Ex-Communicator' represent the fun component brilliantly with punchline verses complementing sing-a-long choruses while tracks like 'This is Not an Exit' counter this with a little more depth.

Bar a handful of guitar tracks, the record was entirely recorded live, which lends it an authentic 'basement gig' feel. Guitars are fast, crunchy and raw where they need to be and compliment the tight and punchy drums well. Vocals are given a good amount of space to breathe also and are never lost completely amongst the rest of the band's swirling, relentless wall of sound.

Highlights among the album's 14 songs are 'Professional' and album closer 'Dirty Diver'. The former being a a classic punk-rock take on 'the business' ("You better start thinking that you're merchandise") while the latter stands out from the rest of the record by evoking the murkier and more reflective feel of the 'Dunedin Sound'.

If you're after a succinct, three-chord blast of enthusiastic rock songs, Is This Anything? will have you hooked about 10 seconds into track one. Those looking for a little more depth may have to dig a little deeper however, and there ultimately might not be enough variation for some listeners. This however, simply reinforces the album's punk credentials - it's loud, it's relentless, it's great fun and it's certainly not nothing.


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