Secrets Between Sailors – s/t

Secrets Between Sailors - s/t

Secrets Between Sailors - s/t

Secrets Between Sailors’ self-titled debut unleashes a raucous and vigorous brew of garage punk and pure 70’s classic rock, a mix of Husker Du and Thin Lizzy. The album cover photo captures a crude bunker-style studio littered with guitars, drums, amps, a spaghetti mix of wires and cables, and sticking out from behind a toppled mess of hardware is a pair of bare feet. This raw and satisfyingly disordered scene is a good symbol of this Indiana rock band’s music.

Secrets Between Sailors specialize in straight ahead rock, pumped out at full volume. The album’s energy is contagious from the get go, and it doesn’t take long to see that this rock band is head and shoulders above their peers who pepper the local bars and clubs. Even “My Shootout With God” and “Wolves and Thieves”–probably the album’s least impressive tracks–showcase a rollicking catalog of head-bobbing rhythms, catchy guitar riffs, an agile rhythm section, and commanding guitars and vocals.

The 5 minute “Salt of My Lover’s Tears” is the album’s first ballad. Bluesy, convicted guitar leads lend this track an instantly classic sound. After some riffing, a second guitar lead comes, this one adapting a piercing distortion that rises above mix. The vocal here is understated, a change from the rest of the album’s impassioned delivery. After 2 and half minutes the song lunges into a faster paced section; this part sounds a little forced, and is one of the album’s rare misdirections. But this flaw is forgotten once “Little Birds” kicks off with a lead guitar riff that is soon joined by backing chords, bass, and a snare-happy drum beat. The band cuts into the meat of the song, releasing a balls-out, punk rock urgency.

“Dead Little Indians” starts off guitar-heavy until vocals join in at one and half minutes. Here the band sounds almost like a reincarnation of Thin Lizzy, pulling out modestly versatile guitar-centered riffs built more on melody than fireworks. A powerful and exasperated vocal performance marks “Hoboken Death Ray”, a propulsive rock song that, again, shows the band going beyond the power chord devotion that can cripple other rock bands; Secrets Between Sailors craft songs that blend a punk vitality with a rock attitude. “Dead Little Indians” later whips into a riff that leads into a bumping beat by the rhythm section–quite effective in an album of  mostly straight ahead cadences.

After 8 solid songs, the album closes with “Tiny Pieces”, a 4 and a half minute acoustic ballad that places the vocals in front. Music and lyrics convey resignation, imparting lines like “I got awful luck / Oh, Lord, it’s a motherfucker to be missing the smells and the taste and the warmth of your breath / Quietly, oh, you lied to me / An apology would never suffice / So I tear your pictures down from the empty house in this nowhere town”. It’s a decent ballad, a fit if predictable ending as well as a departure from the rest of the album.

The production captures that garage guitar sound with crisp drum, bass, and vocal mixing. This self-titled debut by Secrets Between Sailors is how rock is done, a cut above most other garage rock bands taking up valuable stage space.