The tracks on this stunning third album from Cincinnati’s The Drin may technically be more straightforward, more melodic, more “song-like” than their previous efforts, but they’re no less eclectic. Featuring the work of six band members, the 10 songs here are woven together in psychedelic layers. More than once I had the realization that a track wouldn’t have sounded out of place at Woodstock, the ecstatic guitar reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and his pioneering recording techniques. And what’s more punk than Hendrix, lighting his guitar on fire or protesting the Vietnam War with his take on “The Star-Spangled Banner”?
The intro offers a case in point: a haunting blip with monk-like chanting and cryptic, looping backwards audio, which dovetails sharply into the jagged post-punk of “Venom.” The trippy, repetitive “Five and Dime Conjurers” calls for slow headbanging, while “Eyes Only for Space” finds The Drin once again dipping a toe into dub. The leisurely drumbeat has a sort of squiggly industrial sound to it, and a subtle clinking sounds like a whisper of a cowbell.
Kudos must also be given to the sequence of the tracks here. “Peaceful, Easy, Feeling” is a faultless follow-up to “Eyes Only for Space,” with its clubby feel and gunshot drum bursts. At times, Dylan McCartney’s vocals bear a sonic resemblance to Underworld’s Karl Hyde. Similarly, “Stonewallin’” and “Walk So Far” are a perfect match, and the strongest tracks on this record. “Stonewallin” is a rambling rock song, with whammied guitar wobbles and layers of airy instrumentation and muffled vocals. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is infectious all the same. “Walk So Far” is likewise full of energy, with a proto-punk feel: distorted, coolly delivered vocals and a propulsive rhythm section. A flutelike synth wafts in the background.
On “Go Your Way Alone,” McCartney seems to channel Jim Morrison, with dramatic spoken vocals set against a spectral, meandering core. That psych vibe returns again on the long-running closing track, packed with droning harmonics and an ecstatic beat. The Drin has been blurring the lines of spaced-out experimentation and gritty post-punk since their start back in 2020; here, they seem to have settled into a more cohesive groove. Some of the best favorite contemporary punk music is made by folks who, though steeped in the scene (members have also played in Crime of Passing and The Serfs, among other bands), go in wholly new directions with their sound. Not beholden to any strictures, on Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom, The Drin invite you along on their warped and hypnotic sojourn through time.