My promo copy of Ed Wood’s debut EP ‘The Violent Years’ came with a bio charmingly scrawled in black biro on the back of a poster for a gig my old band played many years ago. Ed Wood’s beardy guitar-lord was in one of the other bands that night, and I think he thought that by including this memento of a shared punk past he could sugar my bitter outlook with the sweet guff of nostalgia, causing me to write nice things.
Bearded fool! It takes more than sweet memories, a pin-badge and a cool sticker (now on my guitar) to impress this reviewer, especially considering the fact I had to go and pick the parcel up from the depot. In the rain. With a hangover. No, you can’t buy me off… but luckily you don’t have to, because the music is great.
The cover (see image below) shows a number* of pictures of B movie women in violent, sexy, pulpy poses, presumably a reference to the band’s Hollywood namesake. Edward D. Wood Junior directed and produced a number of cheap, idiosyncratic B movies in the 1950s, a body of work that eventually earned him the title ‘Worst Director of All Time’. Thankfully, Ed Wood the band are influenced more by Ed Wood the Director’s low-budget, DIY ethic and penchant for showmanship than by his lack of technical ability. What I can read of the bio (obviously scrawled by a kidnapped three-year-old held at gunpoint in a dark cellar) makes it clear that Ed Wood are “fiercely DIY”.
Fiercely DIY? What, as in painting a door with Dulux Wood-Primer, then growling at it until it’s dry? Or carefully nailing a shelf to your bathroom wall, then kicking the crap out of it? Or like ordering a garden shed from B&Q, waiting patiently for a week for it to be delivered, unloading it from the van, reading the instructions closely, erecting it with the help of the old bloke next door, filling it with the bloodied corpses of your enemies, soaking it in petrol and turning it into a blazing 6 x 4 pine overlap inferno of suburban hate? No, it just means they book their own gigs. Fair enough.
Anyway, enough nonsense. The music is great. Immediate, uncompromising, loud: Ed Wood’s sound is everything any self-loathing lover of hardcore could wish for. The guitar is massive, like something from a heavier Misfits or Snuff album, beefy riffs served up in a thick-yet-flavoursome gravy of controlled feedback and brutal noise. The drums are as relentless, punchy and fat as you might expect, and every so often the bass is allowed to crawl out from beneath the noise orgy, revealing a sleazy, growling fuzz-tone. The vocal punches through everything, an indignant throaty shout-come-scream that holds its own against the instruments, completing the Ed Wood sound.
But the songs aren’t the straight 4/4 fare that far too many hardcore bands settle for. Although they never lose their honest punk edge, Ed Wood keep things interesting, spicing up their tunes with the kind of time-changes, break-downs and dramatic, doomy instrumental sections that will figuratively keep you on the edge of your seat. Yes, I said figuratively where you would expect me to say literally… because you will be literally standing up by this point, jumping around the floor, kicking shelving, punching paint, tearing up floorboards, ordering sheds…
Ed Wood are touring across the UK now, so go see them (info below). LISTEN HERE!