High Vis – Blending (2022)

Blending (2022) by High Vis
Fair Dealing/Fair Use

Music of the angry working class has not been commercially supported over the last fifteen years or so. I’ve nothing to back that point up other than anecdotal evidence from perusals of the genres in the chart music since 2008 which has predominantly been pop (obviously); hip hop and rap; and electronic-based music. Guitar-based bands ending up in the Top 40 since the Arctic Monkeys have been few and far between, and not all that great: 1975, Catfish & the Bottlemen….there are probably more but so few of any note or interest there’s little point finding out. More underground bands that should have the recognition but didn’t become increasingly difficult to find: Eight Legs stand out in one’s mind.

This, therefore, is the landscape upon which the terribly-named High Vis plant their second album Blending. Garage-band music of lads doing it for themselves is always going to be stood in good favour from myself and it’s good to know that, on some level, it’s still out there.

Self-describing themselves as ‘punk’ is, mostly, misleading. Whilst thin-sounding, distorted guitars take centre-stage with songs such as 0151, Out Cold and Talk for Hours, the songs are more anthemic than punk, with easy-to-sing-along choruses and hooks. Certainly that’s no bad thing.

There’re clear influences at work throughout, almost bordering on plagiarism in parts (imitation is the best form of flattery, right): Beasty Boys is 0151; Stone Roses in Fever Dream (Waterfall intro, anybody?); The Cult in Trauma Bonds. The guitar work is solid; there’s little to write home about in the bass; and the drums inject an energy often missing from the other instruments and matched only by the vocals on the whole.

Lyrically there’s the standard gamut: nothing too far out there but all personal and experience-based, validated and genuine. There’s nothing highfaluting or pretentious and it’s all the better for that. It’s the experience of a forgotten demographic: the hearts of docks, heavy industry and factories ripped out and gentrified. The river takes everything out to sea, but we’re still here, singer snarls.

A quick look through label Dais Records shows an eclectic mix, however unfortunately including the infamous, sickening and over-rated General P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle “fame”.

I take my hats off to Dais though: in another age, this is the sort of DIY garage rock that would’ve been snapped up and spread far and wide. It isn’t down to just my personal musical preferences that I’d have no problems hearing the stronger songs off the album being broadcast further: it’s also a political stance. This is part of the music of part of a forgotten demographic that’s increasingly demonised.

It’s a solid effort of an album and, similar to the likes of bands such as Sound of Guns and Eight Legs, it’s certainly one I’ll return to from time to time, likely on long drives or similar times of solitude.

© Cromwell’s Codpiece 2024