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Dragged Up - High On Ripple

Dragged Up High On Ripple coverPsych, garage, proto-punk, C86, indie are just some of the various genres I've used to describe the off-kilter lo-fi sound of Glasgow's Dragged Up but in truth their sound straddles all of those and none seem to really catch their sound. The group drawn from former members of a number of disparate groups such as Trembling Bells, Vom, Las Mitras, The Owsley Sunshine incorporate all those elements, sometimes within the confines of the one song, all topped off with wordy, offbeat and literate lyrics either spoken or sung into something refreshing and rather special. We've been banging on about them since catching them at a free gig in Paisley and have since caught them live on several occasions where they always delight. High On Ripple builds on the critical acclaim garnered by previous releases such as D/U, Hex Domestic EP and the teaser Missing Person single. Released simultaneously on multiple formats including CD, tape and vinyl across a number of labels continuously pushing new music High On Ripple has a lot to live up to and it totally delivers with an album stuffed with influences but confident enough to hone them into something fresh and unexpected.

Opening to guitar twang and bunched voices 'Bible Study' stretches out into fuzzed up psych wigouts, toing and froing between passages of sped up punk fuelled riffs and blissed out noise rock with a combination of shouty out-of-step voices and back to do it all again. The lead single for the album, 'Missing Person', now sounds even more restless and hyperactive. Anchored around a rhythmic backbone jostling with busy bass lines, offering space for elements of their disparate influences to surface. Bursts of Cramps styled riffs, splinters of avant no-wave guitars and a mid-section of niggling surf guitar tones all feature alongside their trademark cooly, detached all hands vocals and harmonies with a chorus soaring over fuzz guitar noise.

Right from the off 'Life Size Marilyn' splurges to grunge guitars cutting to buzz free riffing where Lisa's melodic vocals about a copyright free cardboard cut-out are accompanied by group harmonies. Riddled with discordant guitars kinda like the fuzz and feedback J Mascis was producing in the eighties it eventually gets sucked up into feedback squall and guitar histrionics as Lisa adds a roll call of other feminine figures to a thunderous combination of bass and drums. Elsewhere, amidst ringing splinters of psych guitars, 'Young Person's Guide to Going Backwards in the World' surges to fuzz drenched clipped riffs propelled by an interplay of varied melodic vocals that seem lifted from some energetic eighties indie songs. That it works is a testament to the group. It feels they've lifted the carefree vocals of indie pop and the high octane chants of riot grrrl and placed them onto a hybrid of punk, grunge and psych. This one is direct delivered in a catchy singalong song about the impact of children's TV shows.

Outside of Dragged Up, vocalist Lisa is a writer and most releases includes a missive of extended storytelling. This time it's 'Die Tryin'' and it's a beauty. Bathed in forlorn guitar patterns the vocals hush, asking "cool your jets" as it saunters into spoken word about department store mannequins. Is it a Glasgow thing? I don't know but Chris Geddes was involved in the recording and his band also sang about department stores on 'Expectations'. This one is beautiful too and not too far removed from Belle and Sebastian with its Velvet Underground influenced lilting guitar ripples as a backdrop to Lisa's casual and offbeat ruminations on career progression in the world of showroom dummies.

Things gets progressively heavier and as Dragged Out move more out there on some of the more expansive tracks. From booming bass throbs 'Professor Boo Boo Invents The Plague' quickly sinks into those half sung vocals over clipped riffs and chiming guitar notes before getting fixated on buzzing doom chords. Voices flit between Lisa and Eva, amidst harmonies, about who invented the plague. From underneath a wiry, snaking psych guitar solo rises nearly as acid drenched as Paul Leary acting as a blotter paper for the saturated wordplay incorporating yoos, boos and hoos. It's totally fried and that's before 'Third Level' which erupts into a lengthy heady explosion of heavy bass groove and transcendent psych guitars spiralling out into tremeloed guitar and psych mannerisms with fractured spoken word from Eva. Magma, geothermal energy and oil are all referenced in this one pitting modern day energy usage against myth. You know what they mean. Dragged Up are on fire here, and that's before sustained riffing powers headlong into manic drumming and guitar skreech in an explosive track reflected in the painting and linocut of the album's cover.

So many styles, so many ideas shaped into a sound familiar but unfamiliar with vocals and lyrics sometimes at odds with their musical influences. And yet there's nothing derivative here, the varied elements brought by each member results in something unique, refreshing and thrilling. I've been blown away by this. High On Ripple proves Dragged Up are really one of the more exciting groups around. Great stuff. The limited presentation box CD from Rare Vitamin Records is gone already but limited tapes are available from Cruel Nature with the digital and orange vinyl edition available from Dragged Up bandcamp