The National Rifle

Wage Life EP

Written by: PP on 14/07/2008 04:00:32

Given the huge success of bands such as The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes and the like in the past few years, it's no surprise that the last 12 months has seen an increasing influx of garage meets indie meets punk styled records to our mailbox. All too often, though, these sound like identical clones of the heavyweights, only without enough good songs to back them up. Although Philadelphia-based The National Rifle could definitely be lumped in the same pile as the copy-catters, something about their sophomore EP "Wage Life" is different enough to have me raise eyebrows just a little more than usual.

First off, if you're a fan of The Strokes, The Hives and The White Stripes, you will absolutely love The National Rifle. Not because the band sounds exactly like one of those bands, but because they take something from all of them and inject it with a healthy dose of optimistic rock and roll groove to distinguish themselves.

So even though "Baby Stole My Guns" opens with a bass line that immediately reminds you of The Strokes, the rest of the song makes it clear that The National Rifle are no clone band. The sound has more raw energy to it than The Strokes, and the vocalist doesn't sound as cleanly produced, which is a great detail here, as it adds edge to the vocals. This in turn immediately sparks a rebellious rock and roll feel to the album, remotely similar to what you've heard from The Armed Forces, and perhaps even Say Anything.

"Gaggers" deviates from the poppy sound of the opener significantly, adding Wolfmother-esque groove during the chorus, which can of course also be connected to The White Stripes, if you will. Then it's time to go a little less tense and intimidating with "Girls At The Clinic", which holds bouncy guitars and care-free "don't do it" vocals. The undersigned is instantly reminded of the summer hit "Steal my Sunshine" (Len) during the chorus - and if that doesn't put you in a good mood then I don't know what. Worth mentioning here are also the strange saxophone jazz-odysseys that the band injects into the otherwise poppy sound.

As if that wasn't trippy enough in a garage rock format, "Crustache" has a distinct disco-beat supporting the "failureee.. a failureee" chorus, again underlining why I mentioned this band as being different in the introductory paragraph of this review. By now the song titles should have made you grasp that The National Rifle isn't the most serious band out there, but just in case you didn't, "Gay Rock'N'Roll" should take care of the last doubts. This is a song featuring worry-free rock and roll at its best; lots of attitude enriched by a posi-core atmosphere (see Good Clean Fun for posi-core).

In summary, "Wage Life" borrows a bit from all the three heavyweight garage/indie/punk bands in the scene, while adding The National Rifle's own personal touch to the songs in the process. In other words, even though the band sounds a little bit like The Strokes or The Hives, it never crosses the boundary and becomes annoyingly noticeable. Be prepared to be surprised during each song, as the band teases you with short jazz-, country-, and god knows what else-passages in the middle of their otherwise straight forward garage rock sound - this is the cornerstone of their sound and the reason why they sound so refreshingly different. Why aren't these guys signed yet?

Download: Gaggers, Crustache
For the fans of: The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Clash, The Hives
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.05.2008
Self Released

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