Album of the Week: Red Axes – The Beach Goths

Like tumultuous waves pounding an invisible shore obscured by the dead of night, Red Axes come crashing in on “The Beach Goths” with great temerity as keys crunch under foot and irreverent percussive parts clash in harmonious counterpoint. Jangly rhythms and dissonant atmospheres set the tone for this sophomore LP from this idiosyncratic two-piece band. Channeling something from the Velvet Underground into the contemporary, the Red Axes have always been a kind of Ramones for the post-punk, pre-tropical era and on their latest record they consolidate what they’ve first established on the album format on Ballad of the Ice.

The album format is where  Red Axes truly shine and while their EPs and 12 inches might be focussed towards the more accessible and often the dance floor, the albums tend to showcase more of an eclectic, versatile and often more adventurous sound palette. “The Beach Goths” is a ratty blend of music from an electronic and acoustic realm, bridging musical dialects with the progressive charm of Frank Zappa. Although drum machines and the grid inform a large portion of their arrangements, Red Axes put keys, guitars and voices in the foreground of their latest album, opting for a band-like arrangement for the most part “The Beach Goths”.

Songs are preferred over tracks, with chord arrangements following accessible formulas and arrangements opting for popular verse-bridge-chorus forms. When Red Axes do get tracky, like on the opening two tracks, they prefer a kind of transcendent improvised structure where dub rhythms and receptive loops create the point from which they astral project over the entire landscape of the musical lexicon, past and present. Through “The Beach Goths” Red Axes visit elements of punk in Relaxation (for your mind and body); traverse the landscape of  jazz/exotica in “Cooked Banana”; and even dabble in an improvised interpretation of  Hi-NRG for “Shir1”.

Red Axes are nothing if not eclectic, and although the tracks might all emanate from contrasting corners of the Red Axes musical hemisphere, they all converge into a singular stream that flow’s uninterruptedly through “The Beach Goths”.