After several listens, and exactly as their press release stated, I’m not surprised to learn The Picturebooks record in the same garage where they regularly refurbish and repair motorcycles and choppers. Seeing and hearing Fynn Claus Grabke [vocals, guitar] and Philipp Mirtschink [drums] it’s clear these guys aren’t screwing around. The opener, “Seen Those Days”, clocks in at :34 seconds giving these guys an immediate punk rock vibe, which this reviewer can certainly appreciate. Things then get tribal with “Wardance”, complete with chanting and some wicked deep heavy floor toms played with mallets. Upon further research I see the drum set has no cymbals. It only includes a few self-made percussion instruments with huge chains, bells, and more. Great production, not a lot of high end. It’s kinda low fi style, reminds me of Samhain. Next up, the title track sets the stage for the rest of the record. That being a groove laden, Zeppelinish/70’s vocal style sound along with some nasty slide guitar action. The Picturebooks listen like a musical democracy where all is equal. There is no one element that dominates. The drums are as important as the vocals which are important as the guitar as is the background vocals or the songs. I don’t hear a bass guitar on this record but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Kudos to producer for all that. “On These Roads I’ll Die” features one of the only guitar leads on the record, keeping with that punk rock vibe. Similar to Peter Buck’s work with REM where the guitar lays down quality riffage without being guitar hero like. This translates into a true study in less is more and, trust me, these guys have went to class. Rounding out the record the guys get sentimental on the swampy ditty “I Came A Long Way For You” and channel a Pixies quiet/loud vibe on “Heathen Love”. Capping off Home is a Heartache is a spooky, chant laden jam called “Inner Demons”. I suspect it’s these demons that help shape The Picturebooks in sound, body, and mind, and for that, I am thankful. Sometimes the sound of a 2 person band, drums & guitar or bass, seems thin to me. Either live or on record. Often it’s missing something to my ears. Call me a purist, I like a band to be, at minimum, guitar, bass, & drums. After listening to Home is a Heartache, I’m still split on 2 person drums & guitar or bass bands. While I never got The White Stripes, The Black Keys, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I like Royal Blood, Middle Class Rut, and now, The Picturebooks.
Catch The Picturebooks on tour in Europe this Spring and, hopefully, coming to America soon.