Oh my, did I love China Drum from the mid-90s or so until they disappeared from view a few years later! All of their incredible singles and EPs leading up to their 1996 debut Goosefair were so stuffed with energy, excitement, and unstoppable hooks! Don’t even get me started on their frantic and absolutely electric second album Self Made Maniac, where the songs all flowed into one another – turning it into an album that could not be turned off. Doing so was a massive crime (there was a third album under the moniker The Drum, which I missed entirely). The 90s was when the UK punk scene exploded with amazing bands like China Drum, Midway Still, Leatherface, Mega City Four, and Compulsion and unlike here in the US, they were all unique in their own ways – avoiding the sameness of the punk-pop Warped Tour sound that wore out its welcome the second the Warped Tour was conceived. These UK bands were heavier, more substantive and gifted with better songs. But this isn’t about who was better, this is about the fact that Midway Still rejoined the fold a few years back with new material, and now, 25 years after they began kicking ass, China Drum have graced us once again with some new music – this simple limited edition two song 7” single.
The original trio is back, but now bolstered with a second guitarist and a new drummer to allow singer Adam Lee to be out in front (I don’t know how Lee sang and played those frantic songs live, even though I witnessed it once at the Satyricon here in Portland). “Water” kicks in with some muscular mid tempo drums and serious power chords letting us know that they are back to rock. Each verse grinds along open and spacious, before the huge chorus kicks in with buzzing guitars and even some female background vocals from Kate Stephenson, the new drummer. This is the “sound of water rushing past your ears” – refreshing as it washes over you.
On the flip, “Kitty’s Burn” returns the band to their speedier selves and another one of those killer sing-along choruses. For a three minute song, it manages to be both hyper catchy, off-kilter with stuttering drum fills between lines during each verse, and dynamic with a tempo changing bridge.
This is a solid reintroduction to a much missed band. Now let’s see what happens next. I sure hope this means they will continue to offer us new material. Now, I’ve gotta go crank up the old collection and jump around the room. Excuse me.