After a long wait and a couple of line up changes Guernsey’s garage-rock godfathers, Thee Jenerators, are back on record with new full-length album The Devil’s Chords.
In typically contrary style the record was released digitally with little fanfare in the summer, ahead of their appearance at the Vale Earth Fair, before a fully fledged vinyl edition emerged in November.
My review was published on the Gallery magazine website on Friday 20th November 2015 but unfortunately, since the Guernsey edition of the magazine folded at the end of 2015 its no longer available there.
So here is the review in full
The Devil’s Chords
15 years into a career with roots stretching back far further, Thee Jenerators are back with their fifth album The Devil’s Chords. Being the first to feature this line up of the band; founding members Mark Le Gallez (lead vocals) and Ozzy Austin (drums) are joined by longtime saxophone and organ man Garrick Jones and newcomers Jo Reeve (bass) and Andy Sauvage (guitar), making for a slightly different Jenerators, but still a band firmly based in retro, garage, rock ‘n’ roll.
With each of their previous albums the band seem to have taken on slightly different themes, from the punky leaning of Jenerator X through mod and ska, rock ‘n’ roll and leading to Rejeneration’s strongly 1960s garage influenced tones. Here they take a bit of each of these to create a varied album that is all unmistakably Thee Jenerators.
Mixed in with this, the newer members bring something of their own to proceedings with Reeve’s basslines retaining the sense of Le Gallez’s from Rejeneration but with a greater fluidity and power, helping bring the rhythm section to life even more than previously, while Sauvage’s indie-rock influences are evident giving the whole thing a slightly new feel with hints reminiscent of 1990s British guitar bands.
The Devil’s Chords kicks off with rocker City At Night that has proved a potent live show opener and sets the scene well. Lead single Daddy Bones follows this and is one of the more garagey highlights of the record alongside the Theremin drenched Bela Lugosi which continues the sound of Rejeneration but with added overtones of psychobilly and horror movie fandom.
Le Gallez’s mod-ish tendencies reappear on Where’s Polly Gone and a revisited Who The Hell Is Frank Wilson (originally featured on second full length The Kids Are… Not Alright) while album closer Keep On Knocking takes us back to the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.
Recorded analogue and almost all live makes for a genuinely vital sounding record with all the performers’ power coming across and Le Gallez in particular sounding as strong a frontman as he ever has.
The fact that it sounds like there are a few missed notes here and there adds to the live feeling, but bolstered by extra studio work, including guitar overdubs and backing vocals, really succeeds in capturing the sound that has built Thee Jenerators’ reputation while adding that extra something that can only be captured on record.
As well as a digital release, a physical version is available on vinyl with detailed artwork by Mikal Dyas that completes a full package of a record in a vein akin to the many influences shown by the band and maintaining their defiantly ‘retro’ yet vital manner.
This final touch completes a record that brings Thee Jenerators full circle in some ways while helping to define and clarify a sound that, while drawing on much of rock ‘n’ roll history, is certainly their own and continues to prove the old adage, “The Devil has the best tunes” (or in this case chords, I guess).
Here’s a little preview of what to expect from The Devil’s Chords: