Listen: Glass Rifle

Glass Rifle may be based in Williamsburg, but you’ll be hard-pressed to lump them together with the popular indie rock acts that have come out of the neighborhood. To put it simply, the British-American three-piece is straight-up punk. I’m not talking about modern punk, which has a more mainstream appeal (i.e. Green Day, Against Me!). This is a band that isn’t willing to compromise.

“It can provoke people, or turn them off completely… I don’t mind,” says guitarist PJ Norman, discussing the group’s Foebic/Cutters single. “We just do what we do, people can get what they like out of it.” The release is the group’s first, following a couple of lineup changes. While drummer Dan Colby and bassist Ryan Francini had been playing together in the Boston DIY scene, the band started coming together when Norman moved from London to New York in 2009. They were briefly a four-piece before one of the members moved to Italy, leading them to strip down their sound and turn into the trio that exists today.

Once you listen to their EP, stripped-down feels like an appropriate term. There’s no fancy production here. No strings or synths- just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Musically, both “Foebic” and “Cutters” are direct, in-your-face type of tunes that don’t need fancy gimmicks to grab your attention. They know they’ll have it from the start.

“Foebic” starts off with a couple of gentle guitar plucks before light drum taps build it up to an explosion of fuzzed-out, rapid rock. Things slow down a fraction for the chorus, but besides that, this track blazes by without giving you a second to catch your breath. Lyrically, the song fits into a politically-anarchic mindset. “The state’s on fire/Start it again, start it again/This light starts nations/Get away, get away.”

(photograph by Diana Scheunemann)

On the other hand, the melody in “Cutters” is a little slower and easier to latch on to. An incredibly catchy chorus repeats “Anyone, anywhere, anything out there” in a way that people can quickly learn and shout back over the course of three minutes. Out of the two numbers, this is definitely the stronger piece. “[It] was built on ideas that Dan and Ryan had been throwing around for years,” Norman says. “The final arrangement came about when we got into it as a three-piece.”

By including both an older and a newer track, Glass Rifle’s EP succeeds in showing the multiple sides this band has to offer. Combine their energy with the production team of Jay Braun (Cat Power, Elliot Smith) as well as Warren Russell-Smith (Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley) and you have a double-sided single that’s impossible to ignore.

So what’s next for the band? As Norman sums it up, “Ryan [Francini] just blew his bass cab, so I guess we have to fix that first… Next year we are releasing an EP, Battle Hymns. “Foebic” and “Cutters” will be on that too, along with four new tracks. Right now we are mixing that with Jay [Braun] and working on a music video to go with it, filmed by the amazingly talented photographer Diana Scheunemann.”

Sounds like a busy year but with Glass Rifle’s DIY attitude and face-blasting sound, it looks like it’ll be a successful one as well.


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