Cheshire Grin is Powerslide’s debut album released sometime in April this year. Powerslide are a punk trio that began their musical journey in the rolling misty hills of Tigoni under the patronage of punk precursor Harvy Herr who has been at the helm of bands like Impish under the house of Bin Khalid Sonic Pollution. As punk rockers, Powerslide met first at the skate park and they will often be seen arriving for gigs with their skate boards in tow.
Their first music video is the titular Cheshire Grin filmed on an iphone camera with them slaloming down the Kabuku-Tigoni intersection – carefree in what would be any skater’s dream. This exemplifies there DIY ethos and their mantra to live by their own rules and forfeit all else. Those same values were echoed in the making of the album which they did with a combination of undying will – cutting tall grass with sickle in hand to fund the project and enduring a grueling recording process where they had to do with procuring electrical power through clandestine means – since the same had long been cut out. The studio as set up was running on a negative balance and they had to do with very little to get by. This album is therefore a record of toil of passion and it almost seems like that clandestine electrical energy seeps through every piece of music in the album as it does through the trio’s veins.
The themes here are indicative of present societal intrigues. The political upheavals in places like Sudan and Tunisia characterize perhaps one of the album’s strongest messages carried with the forceful voice of songs like Banana Republic. However aside from this outward exposition, Cheshire Grin is at its core written with an introspective goal.
The instrumentality is piercing as exemplified in the song Hollow. Vocally there may not be much that may be called stellar but this is a punk record and in the history of the genre, the emphasis has always been on doing what one can. But where that might be a drawback for those looking for a more astute vocal outing then the instrumentation does not dissapoint. It is the hallmark of the band’s sound and indeed this record with a variety of infectious guitar leads, unabashed riffing and uncanny yet soothing melodies. The songwriting is colorful and dreamy yet strangely contrasted with themes that are anything but colorful except in the eyes of the protagonist punk keed who has a penchant to brood in sadness, contemplates suicide and often has to deal with heartbreak. These internal struggles pull’s his heart to one side as the outward world with its standards and systems pulls on the other. The record is then a reconciliation of these struggles to the protagonists only objective – liberation through skating and punk rock. You will hear these twin totems of liberation spread out across the record. The trio put across this gospel eloquently with a mix of punkrock truisms mixed in with the vitality of hardcore punk and heavy metal. In this respect songs like The Keed, Chesire Grin and Banana Republic and Monsters and Men stand out as instant favorites.
Serpents in Your Heart is where the album comes to head – the band plays fast and mean therefore delivering the most outstanding performance in the album. I was absolutely taken by the expert and impassioned drums quite attune to the punk tradition where generational anthems were most certainly defined by an earnest drumming pressing a strong political message. Your Heart quite poetically, makes the strongest case for the song around which the entire record revolves – its epicentre. Here is where the entire album’s aspirations spring from. It is also where the epic seems to conclude, it’s protagonist battle-worn and his soul subdued.
Powerslide’s Cheshire Grin is Available on BandCamp and Mookh
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Powerslide’s Current Lineup
Willy Ojiro – Guitars/Vocals
Timothy ‘Qreed’ Wafula – Drums
George Zuko – Bass
Reviewed by: Dani