(Música Para Locos Records, CD, LP, digital download)
It’s been a minute since we heard a peep from Burlington’s Persian Claws. In part, we imagine that’s because the band’s lead guitarist, Bill Mullins, is a part-time Vermont resident these days. He splits his time between Burlington and holding court atop Guitar God Mountain, or maybe swimming in whatever fountain of youth he’s discovered that keeps him looking, at 51, as though he just wandered out of CBGBs circa late 1970s. Or maybe he’s just been hanging out in Austin. Whatever.
In any event, we’ve missed Persian Claws. There’s been a growing sentiment ’round these parts in recent years that rock and roll has been on something of a downswing. Sure, the likes of Blue Button and Waylon Speed have helped maintain Burlington’s snarling status quo. And I’m not saying I entirely agree with the opinion that rock has become diminished of late. Still there’s been a noticeable trend in the Queen City toward not just electronic music, but all manner of sounds that might leave rockers with an axe to grind, rather than play.
Persian Claws’ debut self-titled LP — yup, vinyl! — is a much-appreciated reminder that rock and roll is alive and well in Burlington. Penned and performed by Mullins and vocalist Deborah Troiano, the record is a blistering, vintage fusion of punk, rockabilly, garage and surf, and it’s one of the finest local records in years, rock or otherwise.
For her part, Troiano is an understated front woman who succeeds more on sly, insistent cool than in-your-face punk snarl. She proves an able balance to Mullins’ maelstrom of shake and stomp throughout. As for the ace guitarist himself, he plays all the instruments on the record and provides decent backing vocals to boot.
Persian Claws aren’t as ragged as fellow garage-surf revivalists Shannon and the Clams or Beach Day, two bands that rely on sloppy punk charm to evoke a skewed, surf-y nostalgia. That’s probably because neither of those bands boasts a guitarist of Mullins’ caliber. Rather, the Claws are a sharp outfit whose musicality matches their infectious energy. As he’s long done with his own surf band, Barbacoa, Mullins can sling a Dick Dale-worthy riff with the best of ’em. And Troiano coos, hoots and sometimes howls with equal aplomb. The result is about as perfect a summertime record as you’ll find.
Perisan Claws is available at persianclaws.bandcamp.com. Persian Claws play Radio Bean in Burlington this Saturday, June 15, with Barbacoa and the Shandies.