Though it’s unlikely that more than a dozen people have ever laid eyes on this blog, I have a feeling this could well be a contentious point. Basically I’m arguing that the very good band, Reuben deserve more widespread attention, and also that they would have more attention if it weren’t for the other good band, McLusky.
A brief wikipedia-style rundown of the two bands, McLusky are a hard rock three piece with funny, self referential lyrics often about music and being in a band (“Collagen Rock”, “To Hell With Good Intentions”). Reuben are a hard rock three piece with funny, self-referential lyrics often about music and being in a band (“Freddy Kreuger”, “Return of the Jedi”).
McLusky put out three albums in the noughties and then split up- after which a Rarities collection was released. Reuben put out three albums in the noughties and then split up- after which a Rarities collection was released.
So yes, they’re similar. And I should add that, as in the paragraphs above, McLusky came first. But- and here’s the contentious point- there is a major gap between awareness of McLusky and awareness of Reuben that is not supported by there being a major gap in the two band’s quality.
McLusky’s predominance is seen everywhere, Pitchfork have reviews of all McLusky releases during the site’s existence. Whereas Pitchfork doesn’t seem to believe Reuben exist.
Allmusic.com rate all of McLusky’s albums (favourably too) but seemingly they don’t feature ALL music as again, Reuben do not feature.
So what have McLusky got that Reuben haven’t? Well they do have fast, buzzing guitar lines, fuzzy bigmuff-ed bass and pounding drums. No wait, Reuben have them too, and Reuben’s basslines are better, guitars are more complez and the drumming is astonishing. Therefore I am putting it forward that the one thing McLusky had behind them that Reuben never had is Steve Albini, and the inevitable “cool” that he provides.
Steve Albini is a record producer and recording engineer, but if you didn’t know that I doubt you’d be reading a music blog. He also happens to have more indie cred than most anyone in the world having worked with Nirvana, Pixies, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jarvis Cocker and many other bands that could get you laid at an indie hipster club.
Now I’m not doubting that the man’s amazing- as I would donate organs to see at least two of the above bands live- but I am disappointed that his influence has blinded people to other bands in McLusky’s style. Similarities between McLusky and Reuben does not mean that they cannot be kept in the same CD collection. However I feel that without Albini’s seal of approval, Reuben are dismissed as a “Kerrang kind of band” (which is exactly what McLusky would’ve been if they’d not had the Albini touch) who rip off Steve Albini’s chosen ones.
I’m not doing McLusky down at all- hell, if you hear “Friends Stoning Friends” in a club, let me know as I will race you to the dancefloor- but it concerns me that people dismiss another band of similar ilk based on something as trivial as the connotations of who produces their albums.
Grails - Live at Barracuda (2018)
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