Pinch me – am I dreaming? For all I knew, I was watching the The Ramones in a world where CBGB was in Olympia, Washington and it’s 1983. It was February 2012 and I was at Death By Audio in Brooklyn watching the Woollen Kits. The garagy punkers hailing from Melbourne, Australia had me at their feet without even trying, as the cartoon likenesses of the late Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone peered over their shoulders off the muraled wall of the venue. It was nearly impossible to resist singer Tom H’s bassy monotone, reminiscent of Calvin Johnson and Beat Happening together with a sound that borrows more punch than twee from all my favorite Sub Pop and Sarah Records bands.
Tom, Tom and Leon (“Not Tom”) of the Woollen Kits have been coupling hooky vocals and guitars with Energizer bunny percussion since 2009 (though a previous lineup had been technically around since 2007). The first time I heard the trio was 22/09/11 , a cassette of a live show released on Fan Death Records. The recording speaks perfectly to the band’s immediate, frenetic and stickily-memorable songs, with the charming bits of a small, but excited audience dashed for good measure. I play sides A and B over and over again, even though I learned many of the words and hooks the first time around – such is the life of great pop music.
Their self-titled full-length was released this past January, but these are the songs of summer: From upbeat opener “Sloan” to the sleepy, dreamy “I Love You” and sassy closer “Watch You Walk” (with sax!) – I’m in psycho beach party heaven! The sweet grime of The Vaselines and The Pastels is here, as well as the structured surf pop of The Beach Boys. It’s an answer to Best Coast, without the stoned California pining and more of an earnest boys-will-be-boys yearning.
For all my referencing back to music I’d never been around for, at the end of the day bands like the Woollen Kits only cement my earnest belief that the best are still around, right before my very eyes in small sweaty packed (and sort of unpacked) rooms full of eager kids. The past is long dead, but the music sure isn’t.
Earlier this week Woollen Kits released the 7″ “Shelley” (which you can listen to below and buy here) b/w “Down Your Street” via Chicago’s Trouble In Mind. It is also not too late to check out their ridiculously under-the-radar self-titled album from R.I.P. Society and start praying they come to a town near you very soon.