Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 18 months, you would have heard or seen the name New Valley Wolves on the bill at a number of shows and festivals around the country. New Valley Wolves are the brain child of Dublin based singer/guitarist Jonny Lucy and drummer Baz Joyce. After 3 very well received singles, April 24th sees the band unleash their debut album “Refusal Is Our Weapon” in The Workman’s club in Dublin.
My first introduction to the band was when a friend told me to check out a track on Bandcamp, the track in question turned out to be the band’s first calling card to the public, a track entitled Fire in the Blood, after hearing this, I was hooked, it had everything that made my ears stand to attention.
A few weeks later, New Valley Wolves posted on their Facebook declaring they were playing a show in my local bar, The Brewery in Monaghan (turns out, this was only the bands second ever gig) where they were playing a support slot (alongside northern rockers Abandcalledboy) for the now defunct blog Chew Your Own Fat who had set up a tour for Dublin Noisy merchants Val Normal to promote their debut album, Plans? What Plans. Having heard the band right at the beginning of their career and to see how they have grown as songwriters and musicians to getting to review their debut album, it almost feels like I’ve witnessed the band growing from a boy into a beast.
Kicking off the album in style is the bands second single “Shake your bones” A real foot tapping high octane Rock n’ Roll stomper with a catchy chorus that will stick in your head. A great choice to open the album, it really grabs the listeners attention and if this doesn’t make you want to get your groove on then you really have to ask yourself what the hell is wrong with you!
Animal kicks off with a heavy drum laden, tom pounding beat before being joined by a dirty, beefy POG fuelled riff. “I went down to the river and I came back stronger, cos I’m an animal” The lyrics just give off great imagery that makes you want to beat your chest. A great track that will awaken the animal inside the listener.
Track 3 is the band’s first single and the track that made me take notice of the band and introduced the public to the way of the wolf… “Fire in the Blood”. A heavy de-tuned guitar riff kicks off the track before explosive drums kick off a groove before singer/guitarist Jonny Lucy bellows out about how “you got a dead man living under your home” before telling us to dig him up then calling us suckers…. You ain’t going to hear that in an Ed Sheeran song!
Acid Ocean is an instrumental jam. To be honest I was kind of disappointed that this didn’t have any vocals on it as it would make a great song and not just a jam. It’s got a great riff and epic drumming but just lacked some vocals for me.
This bad city, like the previous tracks on the album, is big, loud and shouty. For me the stand out part of the track is the half time break down near the end. It’s slow, sludgy and sounds massive. Add to that the lyric “The King is dead, long live the King” being repeated over and over. It certainly makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck when listening too.
Shark was the third video that the band unleashed on the public. Clocking in at 2.45, it’s a fast paced slice of dirty punk rock with a great groove and is about a Shark…. Everyone loves Sharks! One of my favourite tracks on the album.
Athens sees a softer side to the band. A more relaxed, almost trippy, hazy vibe to the track. Intricate drumming and a simple but effective riff creates an air of space and openness and shows that the band are not only comfortable with the loud, in your face tracks, but are equally as comfortable taking a step back. It shows they can mix it up yet when you hear the track you know it’s a New Valley Wolves song.
FTF sees singer Jonny Lucy almost preaching to the listener. The track also has a great drum beat with lots of little fills on the hi-hats that accompany the main guitar riff a treat. To me, this shows the great musicianship between both members of the band. It may be in your standard 4/4 timing but it’s all the little fills from drummer Baz Joyce that kept me interested in the track along with the almost preaching lyrics.
Crocked Sea is the band’s latest single which came out last week to tie in with the album release. Crocked Sea kicks off with a riff, to me, that pays homage to Rage against the machine and a riff that Tom Morello would be happy to have in his repertoire. Its big, it’s loud and its dirty, it’s everything you want in a rock n roll band and a great choice of single.
Cold Water sees the band taking a step back from the fury and going into another instrumental track. It’s atmospheric, slow burning and almost has a white stripes blues-esque vibe about the jam. I would have loved if there were some lyrics on this track due to the fact that it has a great, catchy hook but alas it wasn’t to be but I see why the band did it as an instrument, it’s a lead in and a build up to the albums final track Rabbit.
For me, Rabbit is one of the stand out tracks on the album. It has all the hallmarks of the New Valley Wolves sound. Big guitar, Big Drums, shouty vocals and sonic brutality that will awaken the beast in any of us. Rabbit sees Lucy proclaiming “We got no jobs, we got no money but they can’t tax sex so let’s have some honey” before leading us to a half time break down hook that is heavier than heavy and will melt your face. Definitely, for me, one of my highlights of the entire album. And with that it’s all over….. Clocking in at 33 minutes, its short, it’s sweet but Refusal is our Weapon will awaken the inner wolf in you.
One thing I like about this album is just how raw it is, a lot of bands make great albums with tons of overdubs but when it comes to playing the album live, it’s impossible to replicate (unless they are using backing tracks and even still it might not work) With “Refusal Is Our Weapon” what you hear is what you get at a New Valley Wolves show, a band that intend to melt your face of with big riffs, heavy fills and attitude.
Where next for New Valley Wolves? With such a stripped down and raw sound, the one thing I would be afraid of everything becoming too samey, maybe there is only so much you can do with such a formula…. But for album 2 I would hope the band will think outside the box. Maybe drum triggers, additional synths or keys. Maybe even adding a multi-instrumentalist who can play tons of instruments that help to expand the sound or maybe not, maybe the band have something totally different in mind for the future? But for the moment, Refuse is our Weapon is a great debut from a band that are going places fast.
Standout tracks – Shark, Rabbit and Shake your bones