Drum machines are over-rated. They’ve pretty much taken the place of the Moog as the electronic instrument of choice for rockers, only it’s being used too much and in far too many bands. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s all a band can do. Drummers are notoriously flaky, and are not a dime a dozen like guitar players. Sometimes drum machines are good things. For The Charming Snakes, their drum machine, known as “Dr. Rhythm,” was possibly one of their greatest assets. While an actual person has since replaced Dr. Rhythm, he did his job well, and there is still a place in The Charming Snakes’ heart for him. After all, it was with him that they first created the wondrous sounds that The Snakes are still making today.
On their Latest LP, Ammunition, this Texas/Seattle-based group (which began as a two-piece and is now a four-piece), cranks out riveting filthy rock, reminiscent of Beehive and the Barracudas and L7. Two of the best tracks on this album are the fast-paced, catchy “Tracks that Lead” and “Epic Jams,” sticky with overdrive and thick with horny rhythms. Founding members Ruben Mendez and Lacey Swain have created something wonderful here, and the addition of Kellie Payne and Joe Arnone have made The Snakes just that much better.
Maybe it’s something in the water in Seattle, but The Snakes have the capability to come off like Bleach-era Nirvana. This isn’t a rip-off as much as a nod to the days when bands like Mudhoney were ruling the scene with furor. Maybe The Charming Snakes can pick up where 90’s so-called “grunge” left off. God knows the radio needs it.