I don’t whether I’ve said it before or not, but I feel really lucky to be asked to contribute to this blog. I have very non-mainstream musical tastes and spend a lot of time looking for stuff I like because it never gets played on the radio and rarely makes its way to my ears on its own. To be able to talk about what I find to other people is always a thrill for me. But what I didn’t realise was that putting the odd review up here would actually result in me finding more bands. So that’s even better.
I essentially came across The Maxims because they followed me on Twitter. I thought it sounded like a cool band name so checked them out. And I’m so glad I did because they’re great. Raw bluesy garage band rock, a lot of classic influences, a ton of energy. And judging by their artwork, a strong sense of style and a decent sense of humour. All of which is right up my street.
As far as I can tell, their eponymous debut EP came out in June this year and features five tracks that showcase a fair bit of early flair. The opener, ‘Endless Mind’, is a nice mid-tempo blues number that features some great guitar playing and a pretty flawless vocal. The foundation for their sound here is a pretty solid barroom blues, but there are two things that lift it way beyond the ton of other bands doing the same sort of thing: the retro, moog-like organ playing which harks back to that classic Booker T. and the M.G.’s type of vibe; and the ambition of the songwriting. This isn’t just twelve bar, three chord kind of stuff, it’s much more accomplished than that. There’s a ’60’s British Invasion influence, I’m thinking The Animals, The Troggs, but also other little bits and pieces I can hear. The band are aiming, it seems to me, for something that fuses together all the things they like and launches them off somewhere else entirely.
Take ‘Heartbeat’, for example, which has an organ solo on it that would make the late great Jackie Mittoo proud:
‘Black Kind of Heart’ has a hint of Screaming Jay Hawkins to it. Maybe by extension Heart Attack and Vine era Tom Waits. I’ve included a live version of this I found below, mainly because it’s interesting seeing them play. I don’t always like sticking labels on things, but I guess post-punk-blues is kind of a thing, maybe!? The band The Maxims remind me of most is the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – they have that same sense of irreverence and experimentation about them. If it sounds good, fuse it in there, create something different from it. Have a bit of fun, don’t take yourselves too seriously.
You know what else I like? If you order their EP from PledgeMusic you can get it with branded cigarette lighters. Whether you smoke or not, I just think that’s awesome. It’s the sign of a band thinking outside the box on ways to get their name out there, and just doing whatever the hell they feel like. I have a lot of admiration for that sort of thing. It’s the future. Bands like The Maxims are the future.
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