Petyr by PetyrRelease date: May 19, 2017
Label: Outer Battery Records
The art of standing on a board and riding concrete, water or snow undulations of the earth shaped a lot of my musical tastes. I discovered Pennywise via surf videos. I never knew about The Vandals until they were the soundtrack to a dude sliding down impossibly steep mountain faces. And skateboarding… man. There lay within a treasure trove of hitherto unknown pleasures, from Drunk Injuns, to TSOL, to Yawning Man, to the likes of DRI, Black Flag, The Misfits and The Ramones, all of whose T-shirts were advertised in the back of Thrasher magazine.
It was in Thrasher magazine that I once read that Tony Hawk, undeniably the biggest name in the business, then or now, was going to have a child. And here’s where this nostalgic whimsy gets relevant. Because the child I read about all those years ago turned out to be Riley Hawk, the guitarist and vocalist for Petyr.
Yeah, I know: I’ve just gone and skewed your view about what this album is going to be like: the band is led by the son of an epoch-defining pro skater (and Riley is also a pro in his own right), so surely it follows that it will be, at best, a middling vanity project.
But you’d be wrong. It is very good. In fact I have a theory: just as I searched credit listings for band names on skate videos, going on as-yet unfulfilled searches for songs and albums to fill my fantasy skate-movie soundtrack, Petyr seem to have cut out the middleman and created their own.
The band – named either after one of the characters in the New Zealand mockumentary on vampires sharing an apartment, What we Do in the Shadows, or the odious double agent in Game of Thrones – kick things off with ‘Texas Igloo’, which goes from a satisfying mid-tempo groove to a driving stoner epic and back again. You could say it would be ideal for an introductory montage.
After a brief interlude, ‘Stairway to Attic’ keeps up the pace with its hyper-speed psych that would be the ideal backing music to footage of the fabled Nude Bowl in the California desert. Google it, kids. ‘Satori III’, the album’s only cover – one of the Japanese outfit Flower Traveling Band – channels Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ in its intro before unleashing some head-spinning guitar work. ‘Old and Creepy’ is well named, as it snakes into your ears malevolently, before the tempo changes mess with your mind. If you like heavy psychedelic music, it is unlikely you will be very surprised at much that transpires, but that doesn’t mean to say that what Petyr have to offer is inferior. Speaking of creeping, ‘Kraft’ does just that, coming in from the distance before a head-nodding riff takes over, underneath some frankly spooky lyrics.
And this brings me to the main quibble with the album: the lyrics. They ain’t the most original in the world, as shown on ‘Three to Five’, which contains the dreaded phrase “runaway train”. There are a few more hackneyed lyrics dotted throughout, like mentions of an “astral plane” and “feel the fire”.
But hell, we don’t listen to music like this for wise statements. We listen for the riffs, the solos and the way the fuzz makes us want to either grab a long skateboard or lounge on a beanbag. The album’s driving finale, ‘Vambo-Buffalo Stampede’, definitely makes us want to do the former – especially after the bit where it locks into a psychedelic shuffle.
And the fact this music is made by skateboarders makes me like it even more. Because you can imagine people riding to this – or even coming up with the songs as they ride. It must be so much fun to be able to come up with your own skate soundtrack.