National Snack – Apply Machine EP
On the face of it, National Snack shouldn’t be any good. Their self-released Apply Machine EP is tinny, their press shots show a band that look a lot like they play death metal in dingy basements, they describe themselves as a mix between Prince, Fugazi and The Weather Girls, and this is not to mention their name National Snack (a very nondescript name – I have already had to re-look it up four or five times).
Alas, how wrong preconceptions can be.
The tinny production is raw and exciting. As metal as they may look, their sound is more a clash of punk and lo-fi, making them sound kind of sweetly naïve, and whilst Fugazi is audible in their sound, I think the Prince and Weather Girls part may well be more in their head than on their record.
National Snack are a three-piece, who release their records on their own Scatty Cat record label and are made up of guitar, bass and drums along with female and male vocals. The effect is not a guitar driven indie noise-wall with a repeated-note bass line, but rather artistic compositions meshing all instruments and backing vocals that carries either or both of the alternative lead singers Gemma Storr and Joe Carlo.
National Snack have been playing gigs in their current form since 2005 at festivals, on streets and in pubs, along with once travelling all the way to Russia for a 30 minute slot – there and back in 24 hours.
The Apply Machine EP features six songs, of quickly written guitar riffs and vocals that are both fun and genuine. The quality of the harmonies is proved on ‘My Head Hurts’, which is a highlight, and which they have offered for free download on the National Snack MySpace page. ‘This Is Not Enough’ is also great – strangely touching, with a touch of embarrassment as Gemma Storr snorts with laughter.
It is rare to be really excited by an unsigned band, but National Snack have strangely managed to not sound like desperate wannabes craving limelight on Apply Machine. It’s hard to compare them to other bands, though I’d be looking at the post-punk era to try and find one. The only other comparisons that come to mind are a couple of other bands I’ve heard trying for the big time – 28 Costumes and Elle S’Appelle.
Have a look at their MySpace, and one of the bonuses if you buy their record is that you get “a tiny square piece of the back cover to design however you want, a copy of the album and a free magnifying glass to find your square”.