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“People forget they have skeletons inside them. They look in the mirror, but no one looks inside their eye sockets at what we are.”

This is Eoin Loveless of Drenge describing the origins of “Face Like a Skull,” a song written along with his brother Rory that appears on the duo’s self-titled debut (out July 22nd via Infectious Music). The sentiment aligns nicely with the image on the album’s cover: a cemetery adjacent to an automotive scrapyard. The music of Drenge—bare-boned and architectural, without flourish or fuss—is as stark as a ribcage. Linger with it long enough and the flesh begins to stick, a full body appearing amidst the din. These two young siblings, barely past drinking age, manage to conjure death and immortality simultaneously. It’s the aim of all great rock and roll: to step into the abyss and come roaring back out of it. To look deeply into those eye sockets and transfer that spirit back into the sum total of a three-and-a-half minute song that sounds as ageless as an unmarked headstone.

It’s no wonder these two lads were born from caves. The Loveless brothers hail from Castleton, an English village near Sheffield known primarily as an adventure destination for spelunking types. Not quite cave dwellers themselves, the two grew up on a steady diet of punk, rock, metal, and grunge. When it came time to construct the scraps Eoin privately assembled in his childhood bedroom into full-fledged compositions, Drenge began to reinvent the notion of a garage band. Call them a cave band, if you must, because this is cavernous music made out of the damp recesses of earth—primal, not suburban. Forget the garage. Drenge have tapped into far deeper recesses than that small space to park your hatchback nearest your house. These are the faraway noises you hear coming from the carved out spaces of broken earth, newly made available for your hi-fi.

“Backwaters” might best display Drenge’s knack for weaving contradictions into their own kind of logic. “Blackened eyes and purple nose / I got missing teeth/ Got a lot of those”—lines delivered in Eoin’s signature delivery (equal parts bored resignation and reluctant melodicism) above a loose, Sabbath-esque backbeat and power-chord chorus, that mixes into an alarmingly catchy sing-a-long, replete with vocal harmony. Opposites converging into a compact whole, fusing together as something hard yet beautiful, somewhat like fossil on stone.

If you’re the type to shrug off a song as unserious by its title alone, then you’ll sadly deprive yourself the complexity of “Fuckabout.” Here is nothing less than the reinvention of the love song, with the youngest Loveless brother unafraid to expose his naiveté, resentment, anger, and vulnerability in less than five lines: “I don’t give a fuck / About people in love / They don’t piss me off / They just make me give up.” Somewhere in the racks between Ian Curtis and Frank Sinatra, you can now file a Drenge track into that small space reserved for both the cocky and the lovelorn. No simple feat, considering it also manages to touch upon the greatest bits of Pavement and Weezer most of us had forgotten we once loved.

But this is a leaflet delivered straight from Drenge HQ. Of course it is praiseworthy. If you can’t take our word for it, take Zane Lowe’s. Britain’s most influential DJ and BBC Radio tastemaker since the late John Peel, Lowe granted the band’s song “Bloodsports” a slot on his coveted Hottest Track year-end list. The duo was anointed Best New Band at this year’s NME Awards, joining hallowed ranks with past winners Arctic Monkeys, the Strokes, Coldplay, and Oasis. A recent four-star review in The Guardian managed to compare them to the Stooges, the White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, and Nirvana—convincingly! At this year’s SXSW, SPIN included Drenge in a piece entitled, “Three Bands That Broke Out in Austin,” with the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jem Aswad writing, “Eoin Loveless creates the most pulverizing guitar sound I heard in a week filled with pulverizing guitars, like something approaching a harmonized motorcycle… They’ve got a stadium-sized sound and it probably won’t be long before they’re dominating the European summer-festival circuit.”

The first-ever Drenge performance was in Sheffield and attended by one man: a space-metal enthusiast wizard. A lot has changed since then. Perhaps that wizard had a few tricks left. The rise of British bands is often met in the States with a kind of shrug, as if to say, “Oh, here comes another one.” Drenge is right there with you.

“I feel kind of annoyed that we’re where we are,” says Eoin, in his usual disarming honesty. “I’m annoyed that someone else hasn’t done it and that we’re the new, loud guitar band on the block. I thought it would be someone twice as insane.”

As it turns out, the only insanity left in the case of Drenge, at this exact moment, is that you haven’t stopped reading this puff piece and pressed play yet. Go, be gone, be that first wizard and enjoy the spell.


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