SAVAK – Lucky 7

LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own. Today, it’s a Brooklyn band called SAVAK formed by former members of The Obits, Holy Fuck & The Cops. Sohrab Habibion, Michael Jaworski and Matt Schulz are also bolstered by James Canty ex of DC legends Nation of Ulysses & The Make-Up, and they have a new album “Beg Your Pardon” out on 9th November on Ernest Jenning Recordings. Just listing those members and their incumbent bands means they are obviously right up my street.

SAVAK’s music is redolent of the incisive lyrical stabs of Les Savy Fav, the furtive double backs of The Pop Group and the intelligent intransigence of Wire. As such I was keen to learn what music makes them tick, and I wasn’t disappointed especially since they included a killer song that I first heard on an Amphetamine Reptile Records sampler and thought had been consigned to post grunge history as well as turning me onto the unexpectedly thrilling return of Australian punk legends The Scientists.

Savak photo by Reuben Radding

Before we get into the cracking song choices, here’s a sample of Savak’s new record “Beg Your Pardon” which is as vital and now as another 2018 tirade “Digital Garbage” by the evergreen, ever-angry (yet fun) Mudhoney. This is “Dead Dick”…

You’re sold right? Great, well invest in some enrichening influences courtesy of Savak…

1. Lorez Alexandria + The King Fleming Quintet – Baltimore Oriole (Matt’s pick)

Lorez sings some good jazz (esp on a couple for Impulse! records) and King Fleming was another jazzer. Somehow they came up with this, the best version of Hoagy Carmichael’s song. I know nothing more about this except that it’s pretty advanced rhythmically (thanks to drummer Vernel Fournier) and goes for a small fortune if you can find the vinyl. Mine is a G grade, so it sounds even funkier.

2. Etran de L’Aïr – Mon Amour (Sohrab’s pick)

A recent release from Sahel Sounds, who are doing such a great service by putting out all this incredible music from West Africa. This Etran de L’Aïr recording is incredibly intriguing. The sound makes you feel like you’re there, with the kick drum just in front of you as the guitars weave hypnotic melodies on either side. To listen to this is to fall into a trance and it’s a wonderful way of being transported far from the daily reminders of all the turds who are running our world rapidly towards extinction.

3. Joe Jackson – Stepping Out (Michael’s pick)

A song where the music so beautifully captures the mood of the message. A pulsing synth rhythm and drum machine set the background to some beautiful melodies, in a very effectual repetition. There is a sadness to the lyrics, but also a common reality and a tiny bit of optimism that comes with being in a long term relationship, or possibly breaking away from someone. Things may get rough and people can so easily become complacent, but there’s always a glimmer of hope if you go out looking for it.

4. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle (Matt’s pick)

“Louie Louie” was a song that was banned by the governor of Indiana for indecent lyrics. The lyrics were totally decent, however, they were just slurred beyond recognition due to the rawness of the recording. Ironically, no one noticed that you can hear drummer Dick Peterson drop a stick and yell “FUCK!” right before the 2nd verse. Anyway this is the B side and it’s instrumental, so it’s safe for governors and young kids alike. Despite my PG rating, Dick rips with some seriously inappropriate drum fills and the guitar leads at the end are surf with a capital S.

5. The Scientists – Survivalskills (Sohrab’s pick)

We had the pleasure of playing with The Scientist here in Brooklyn recently. They were absolutely top shelf. Leanne and Boris held down the groove while Tony sliced the room with his searing guitar and Kim whooped, danced and thoroughly enchanted. When they announced they were going to play a new song you could practically feel the room twitch with fear. But you know what? The tune was tremendous! And here it is, fresh from a 7″ on In The Red. Terrific guitar playing and an arrangement that is perfectly obtuse. Something I rarely say about bands who haven’t written new music in 30 years: I look forward to more!

6. X (Australian X) – I Don’t Want To Go Out (Michael’s pick)

One nasty guitar chord jaggedly hammered over a pumping bass line and drums that keep it moving along. Snotty lyrics with occasional weirdo harmonies / doubling that perfectly capture the ennui or exhaustion the song title may suggest. It only takes two minutes to get the point across. Sometimes you just don’t want to go out.

The Lucky 7th: SAVAK “Nature Erased”

“Nature Erased” was musically inspired by equal measures of Big Boys, Dead Kennedys and James Chance. A bit of nervy guitar work sitting atop an odd-time bass and drum gallop that gets broken up by a droning pulse and a bit of sax squall.

Lyrically I wanted to combine elements of our modern jargon (“narrative control,” “startup culture”) with both corporate language we’re bombarded with (“surge-priced ride-share,” “wearable tech”) and genuine concerns (“private economy,” “occupied land”). We live in an era where news about Über’s social image issues gets the same airtime as Israeli forces unlawfully killing Palestinian civilians. Meantime in our own Facebook loop we’re posting pictures of a fun night out next to requests to sign urgent petition for social change. It’s all a bit surreal and one morning it hit me just how insane the name of a particular online marketing company is: Constant Contact. I mean, is that a promise or a threat? To their credit, it perfectly captures where we are… here in Brooklyn, living and dying by the click.”

SAVAK play in the UK in November:

14th November – Margate, Elsewhere
15th November – London, New River Studios (w/Good Grief)
16th November – Nottingham, The Square Centre (w/Grey Hairs & Good Grief)
17th November – Liverpool, Outpost (w/Good Grief)

“Beg Your Pardon” is out on 9 November. You can get it here.

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