This Hot Snakes 4-track seemed to be a confusing little release, at first. If it was anyone else, I’d be suspicious.
After all, John Peel was more than just a broadcasting legend; he was one of the few genuine explorers on the musical landscape. He made a living out of doing on national radio what music shop geeks (like us lot) do for fun – hunting down new music and telling as many people about it as possible. In a way, Peel had the ultimate dream job, and in the process broadened a lot of musical horizons.
Hitching your wagon to the memory of a man like that could be seen a cynical marketing ploy – except in this case, it's a completely bogus fear. If there's one band out there who has absolutely no need of a "cool-by-association" pick-me-up, it's Hot Snakes, as John Reis, Rick Froberg, Gar Wood and Mario Rubalcabas’ indie credentials are solid enough on their own. Rather this release seems to a be a poigniant reminder of the void left by Peel's death.
So here it is, then. The last ever Peel Session. The Snakes lay down two cuts from Automatic Midnight ('No Hands' and the title track) and two from their last release, Audit In Progress ('Brainstrust' and 'This Mystic Decade'). (Weirdly enough, Suicide Invoice isn't represented here at all.)
Apart from providing a welcome jolt of swagger and kick to your music collection, the recording proves what anyone who's ever been to a Hot Snakes concert knows; these boys are a viciously tight, raw and vitriolic outfit who play some of the hardest, adrenal-boosting punk-rock today. If you've never heard of them, this is as good an entry into their catalogue as any. If you're a fan, it provides a welcome addition – and a taster for what's in store for the lot of us when the Snakes blaze into town in the next couple of weeks.
Four tracks of furious punk-rock. Four men of unimpeachable indie cred. And a lovely way to remember a man who acted as a gateway into a musical world beyond the mainstream. Everyone’s a winner.
9Nick Cowen's Score