Dr Chan: garage rock with a retro infusion

8th March 2017

Title: Southside Suicide

Label: Stolen Body 

I think there’s small print in every garage rock contract somewhere which states that any related album project has to have the word ‘suicide’ in it. To me, though, adding this one word into an album title leave me with the same teeth-clenching irritation as those people who Blu tack those equally irritating signs to the side of the monitors saying, “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps.” It’s a cliche. Although you could argue that, because everything in rock has been done, rock itself is a cliche. But, hey, I understand that the band are looking to make a splash so I’ll cut the slack and move on.

Described as a skate psych band, Dr Chan sing loud and way into the red zone which doesn’t bear well for their vocal chords. Very White Stripes in many ways but with a sort of soul or Motown-like swing to the beat that gives the songs a slightly retro feel to them.

This solid album is thus filled with solid garage rock that will attract a lot of takers because of its familiarity and predictability. It offers lots of noise, lots of intensity and there’s a heavy compression on the mastering which – for any audiophile fans – will result in lowering the volume, way down.

There’s nothing really innovative here, though. Dr Chan tends to merge into a crowded crowd. Apart from the one saving grace: the integration of 60s and even early 50s R&B into the modern arrangements, I (broadly) hear this sort of approach to garage on a fairly regular basis. It’s a style that is repeated to a new audience every 10 years. Maybe my grizzled experience is at fault, then.


The album is released on CD but also vinyl, the first 100 copies of the latter is coloured in pink vinyl with a black splatter with the rest in black.