The Great Dismal Swamis~ Phantom Tollbooth
RZO Records (2014-Vinyl 45rpm)
Norfolk, Virginia has been seeing a lot of new music being released lately. In the last 6 weeks or so, I have reviewed new releases by The Kill Circuit, Sicman of VA, Bantustans, Dead Aim, Bottle Babies and now The Great Dismal Swamis. All of these bands are from Norfolk, and these are just the releases that I reviewed.Today we are listening to The Swamis new 45rpm vinyl release titled “Phantom Tollbooth”– containing 4 Garage-Punk blasts that take me back to the days of listening to new 45s by my favorite Punk bands like the Necros, or the Meatmen in the early 80s.
What I loved about punk and hardcore in the 80s was the stripped down production of the recordings. That gave the records a deep, throaty sound, devoid of that over-produced, effects covered mess. Phantom Tollbooth has a husky sound, just guitar, bass, drums and vocals-nothing extra, so what you hear on the record, you will damn well hear live. This record is coming on the heels of the recently released and close to sold out, self-titled 7″ record on Fandango records.
Songs like Box Wine Bitches ( with Charles Glover of the Larchmont Trash, playing bass) , and the title track Phantom Tollbooth jump out with jabs of muscular guitars from Steve Marsh , a rumbling bass that actually sounds like a bass wielded by Doug Duncan, and the steady beat of Jeff Lomanno, with the maniacal vocals of Jason Rowland. I say maniacal, because if you have ever seen the Swamis live, you would understand why. With his eyes rolling up into his head, and his skull jerking to and fro with each word spit out of his mouth, Jason looks like a man possessed- a cross between a 6 foot plus Ozzy Osborne and a Hillbilly preacher speaking in tongues comes to mind. But Instead of extolling the virtues of Jesus, he is singing songs about getting Ripped, and UFOs.
The Great Dismal Swamis are a fun band to see live (Live Video), and Jason is a great front man, with his lumbering form and intense style, he keeps the audience’s attention, while the band rips through a set. The Phantom Tollbooth 45 has the same energy as the live versions; this record has that raw sound, recorded and produced in a garage by Drummer Jeff Lomanno, where he was able to capture the band’s live energy on tape. All of the tracks were then mastered by Alex Cuervo, of the Hex Dispensers, in Austin, TX., This is just a good damned Punk record, pure and simple.
This record will be released in late August, and what is important to note is that there will be a limited edition release of this 45 on Windian Records. Those will have alternate covers. All of the proceeds from the sale of the Limited edition records will go to the Travis Jackson Memorial Fund, the founder of Windian Records that passed away earlier this year. The money will be going for a good cause, and in return you get a highly collectible vinyl record. Yes please. If you love good punk music that is in the vein of Redd Kross and the Ramones, with a touch of 60s Garage band spookiness, I would make sure that you found a way to get this record. You can also download it from their Bandcamp page– have at it.