Review: The Scants – ‘The Scants EP’
Typically I shy away from using the word “pure” when I’m talking about punk bands. The elitism that it implies leaves a nasty, stinking tang in my mouth. But in trying to find a way to describe The Scants, it’s the single word that keeps popping back into my head. So I’ll say it here and then never again or at least so long as I can help it… The Scants are so pure! From the reason and way they formed, to the way they release and promote their music and shows, it’s just so real. So organic. As a teenager, Darren Graham was devoted to the Grand Rapids, MI punk scene by playing in bands and relentlessly supporting other ones. After a ten year hiatus from playing live, in fall 2016 that itch crawled back up from deep under his skin. Darren grabbed his guitar and teamed up with Colin Blessingame (bass) and Garrett Esper (drums) to complete the seminal Scants lineup. The intention wasn’t to make money, not to break grounds, but to scratch something that, for them, can only be done in a live setting. Behind their April 2017 self-titled debut EP, they’ve begun to conquer the midwest with their old-school approach to punk-rock.
The EP opens with a song narrated by a weekend warrior named “Dave.” Dave hates his day job so he tells off his co-workers (“I don’t really give a shit!”), then come Monday, weepingly apologizes to his boss because in his own self-deprecatory words, he’s “a little chicken shit.” Then comes “First World,” the first single and first in a string of political songs on this project. It alludes to a number of, you guessed it, first world problems and wanting to destroy the TV and country. “Drumpf” is a protest song dedicated to 45. It starts with the thickest bass line you’ll hear all year, followed by a smattering of feedback. On it, The Scants call out The Don’s hate speech and bigotry and paint him as a clown with little hands, not to be feared, but someone “we’re gonna tear down.” Track 4 is “South China Sea,” which boasts a killer breakdown with what sound like marching drums that go perfectly with lyrics predicting impending war and eventual doom due to the population’s apathy.
The second half of the EP begins with “Fully Loaded,” a story about a girl that won’t stop for anything to get what she wants and the inner conflict of the guy she’s with. He loves and hates her at the same time. “Right Brigade” is a brilliant cover of the classic song by Bad Brains from their debut album, The Yellow Tape released in 1982. These guys especially do this one justice live. Track 7, “Mad,” is a short instrumental that acts as an intro to what is probably the band’s best work, “Struggle.” It’s simply a perfect closer. It’s pummeling drums make it simultaneously the most danceable and mosh-able song in this collection.
Eight songs and fifteen minutes of recorded music is all it took for The Scants to do what they set out to do with this project. With self-printed and hand-cut hard copies in toe and hearts full of attitude, they’ve begun to make their mark on stages across the upper Midwest. Honestly, it’s not the most original sound in the world, but every song is fun and as catchy as they come. For as young as the band members are, the music sounds old, but I mean that in a good way. They fit right in with the heroes they modeled that sound after. Bands like Bad Brains and OFF! should be honored by the way these guys have crafted their art. Audio guru/engineer, Don Carlisle really gave this thing life at Knavish Audio in Grand Rapids, MI. His expertise is all over the album in it’s intentionally raw, dirty feel. Catch their visceral live show with new bass player Blake Bouwman also of Crash, Stubborn Strays, Discycle, and No More! Records. They’re probably, almost definitely playing at their homebase, The Workshop sometime soon. While you’re at it, pick up their debut EP. It’s totally pure… dang it, I said it again!
The Scants EP was independently released April 9, 2017
Tracks 1-5, 7 written by The Scants
Track 6 written by Bad Brains
All songs performed by The Scants
All songs recorded at Knavish Audio in Grand Rapids, MI
Engineered and mastered by Don Carlisle