The split EP between Matilda’s Scoundrels and The Barracks sees the two Sussex seaside towns of Hastings and Eastbourne hosting a punk rock cultural exchange and discovering a mutual love of fast music, anthemic choruses and, clearly, oceans of booze. The latter a long serving part of the Sussex scene, the former a relatively recent addition, the split is an indication of what has always been a thriving punk scene lurking underneath both towns’ surfaces.
First The Barracks’ side; and, if you know the band, you’ll know what to expect. This is a crew who know exactly how to write catchy riffs, play them at breakneck speeds and throw in plenty of shout-a-long moments to get fists pumping down the front. Well-crafted melodies are soaked in cheap cider and given an edge courtesy of a crunching guitar sound and gravel-blasted vocals – to paraphrase Charles Manson, “They’re a boxcar, a jug of wine…and a straight razor, if you get too close”. Three original tracks and one Scoundrels’ cover make up their side of the split.
Heading east along the coast, through the world’s party capital Bexhill-on-Sea, and we reach Hastings and the fast-rising folk/punk boozing unit Matilda’s Scoundrels. Drawing influence from the town’s smuggling history, its punk rock pedigree and from The Pogues, they make a token gesture to a measured pace with the first 50 seconds of their half of the EP before speeding things up and getting their teeth stuck into four songs of high octane shanties brimming with drunken swagger. Already sounding much tighter than the band that recorded Beasts in Disguise, the four tracks here show a band hitting their stride and demonstrating why they’re a part of so many festival bills and gig line ups in the coming year.
These two sides should act as an eye opener, if you didn’t already know, of Sussex’s thriving punk scene – one scene stalwart and one newcomer, both killing it with their respective halves. Get hold of it, buy a bottle of whiskey for accompaniment and enjoy.