"Dog's Birthday Party" by Septic & the TanksReview
It was fourteen months ago when I wrote an article in the magazine introducing Septic & the Tanks to our readership: looking back, I think my enthusiasm is pretty clear, as is my anticipation of their getting their sound down on record: which, with the help of Jon at the Moonbase, they have now achieved. So you can imagine how pleased I am to tell you about "Dog's Birthday Party".
Hats off to the band for matching both their memorable name and unique status as a "banjo punk fusion" band (well that's THE banjo punk fusion band really isn't it?) with a title & subject as startling. I own many thousand tracks in my personal collection but not a single one has tackled the subject before.
I've saluted Jon for capturing the more idiosyncratic local bands' music without losing their unique personality and offering as much access to the elements of sound without sacrificing dirtiness & rawness & he's done them proud.
I'm pleased to say that I have no precise sense of what they are singing about: is it literal? Or is it concerning the sort of dog Iggy wished to be? Does that matter? (Not really) Can it be both at once (Why on earth not?). That the party pretty much degenerates as the song progresses into something distasteful suggests some metaphor going on to be honest….("get the fucking bitch out of my yard" is a long way from the lyrics earlier in the story)… like too many parties, it seems like it ends in tears.
What matters is that they mean what they say & that they sound like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves doing so. A zephyr of fresh air free from career cynicism or calculated targeting of demographics, this sort of authenticity and honesty of purpose is what really counts with me & if you read my previous article, you'll get a reminder of their evident joy in making music together. I'd trade that any day for all of the po-faced conformists writing virtue-signalling songs to press audiences' buttons. I think Septic and all of the Tanks want people to enjoy their music, but I think they'd be equally happy playing for themselves.
The music is without question classic punk: not identikit punk by numbers thankfully but we'll all pull out little moments of nods to other bands in there somewhere (I got a scent of a Rogers Sisters track at one point). Where I think I was most intrigued in advance was wondering where the banjo fitted in: there are few precedents & where it has worked in the past was via the filter of cow-punk where bands like the early Pogues or the Boothill Foot Tappers fused punk with roots music (e.g. traditional Irish, skiffle or Americana) wherein the instrument already had a major role. Septic & the Tanks have bypassed these filters completely & just bunged it in & figured out what role it could perform. Which is pretty radical as an approach & thankfully totally in keeping with the punk DIY ethos (do people remember the shock of X-Ray Spex songs being defined not only by the vocals but a totally unorthodox sax sound from a rookie player (Lora Logic) still at school?) The answer (at least as far as this song goes) is that Lucy Kenny provides a second line of riffing in addition to the guitar plus textures which add variety and unique qualities to their music rather than being a lead instrument (maybe that will be a feature on other songs?).
It would be remiss not to remind you of the names of the other members too: they are of course Robin Synnott on vocals, Sarah Croom on bass, James Croom on guitar and Sophie Williams on drums and they all play with an infectious abandon which to some degree belies their relative lack of experience (they've really only been playing their instruments for a couple of years) but totally justifies their timetable in terms of first getting out there & performing & now recording. They have the chops right now to play exactly what they want without needing the technique they've not yet acquired: unsurprisingly that gives them a vibrancy & immediacy untrammelled with extra baggage. In Robin they have the ideal front person: charisma, presence, the vocal power to be heard over the punk racket & above all large quantities of attitude.
Septic & the Tanks are delivering on my expectations (exceeding them too) and you are not going to hear anything like "Dog's Birthday Party" at local or any other level. They are bringing their own thing to the scene& what more could we ask? I thank them & think that you will too…..
Complementing the music is a great video courtesy of Dikira Media which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPq9hctrcxM