Shitbats, Guano, Self-Released | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, January 18th, 2021  




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Some may recognize Cat ‘Commander’ Clyde, frontwoman of Shitbats, from her country folk solo material. But when listeners hear the first notes of the band’s debut, Guano, they’re sure to realize this is a different beast altogether. The Ontario-based band instead conjures a classic blend of surf rock and proto-punk, for an adrenaline-fueled debut record with a vintage bent.

At a tight 20-minute length, these songs are blisteringly short but packed to the brim with punk attitude and gritty riffs. The opening instrumental, “Fishing In the Waters of Skull Island” has a classic surf sound, but with enough grime in the style that it also establishes the band’s devil-may-care attitude. It is with the following track, “Reefer Madness,” that the record really gets going. The track’s sardonic take on weed hysteria takes heavily from the infamous 1936 film, especially with Clyde’s spoken-word interlude. She intones with terrific B-movie drama, “Hunting a thrill/They inhaled a drag of concentrated sin/Now consumed by misery/They’re pounding on the doors!” 

Although the band’s closest touchstones are classic punk acts such as The Stooges, they also work in elements from even further back. The jaunty jazz portion of “Reefer Madness” recalls The Replacements’ “We’re Coming Out” in the way it drops the tempo down and recreates a western backroom bar before barrelling back into its punk style. Similarly, the following track, “Ego Amigo,” works in a vintage blues feel, almost sounding like it belongs on the soundtrack of a Tarantino film. The closing instrumental, “Goodbye Rock Rat,” also takes on a bluesy groove, acting as an excellent palette cleanser after the fiery “Let Me Go.” These moments break up the feel of the album, keeping the sound fresh through every bit of its runtime. 

The band also engages in a few glimpses of social commentary as well in the middle portion of the record. The simply titled track “Ad Make Sad” speaks to the inescapable reality of being constantly advertised to and the unexpected mental toll it can take. “Succubus” also takes the trope of the femme fatale and turns it on predatory men. Though a succubus is a monster of legend, the gaslighting threat Clyde imagines is all too real and every day. She sings, “Sally doesn’t know/That Bill doesn’t have a soul/But I can see his goal/Shut out the light, gain control.” While the lyrics often take a backseat to riffs and attitude on Guano, the band also brings an unexpected level of depth in the midsection. 

With Guano, Shitbats establish themselves as standard-bearers for a time when punk was gritty and grimy. Much like fellow revivalists, Amyl and The Sniffers, the band focuses on raucous riffs, and frenetic pace over polish. Still, they never seem one-note with their distinct and versatile mix of styles, hinting at some greater depth. It is the sort of explosive and thoroughly solid introduction that only leaves the listener wanting more. (

Author rating: 7/10

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