Review: Dragged Up ‘High On Ripple’

My fellow Repeater Radio DJ Nick Hutchings, who presents the excellent Velvet Sheep Show, recently featured Dragged Up playing the track Young Person’s Guide To Going Backwards In The World. My interest was piqued when I also learnt that they’re on Northumberland based label Cruel Nature Records who’ve put out quality albums by the likes of Pound Land, Charlie Butler and Tunnels Of Āh.

Dragged Up 'High On Ripple' Artwork
Dragged Up ‘High On Ripple’ Artwork

Dragged Up, who hail from Glasgow, are Chas Lalli on bass, Eva Gnatiuk on guitar, vox, percussion, Lisa Jones on vocals, percussion, Simon Shaw on guitar, vocals, percussion and Stephen Mors on drums. A relatively new outfit they put out debut full-length D/U in 2020, 2023’s Hex Domestic EP and the Missing Person single in February this year. According to the promo notes, the title is derived from the teenage trash talk of Martin Scorsese’s overlooked 1974 movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, while their social media picture is the much lusted after car in Repo Man.

Bible Study starts off relatively slowly alternating between drawn out Sonic Youth no-wave passages, early Dinosaur Jr Noise damaged folk and frantic Punk. It’s a tense yet thrilling ride and proves the perfect opener. Missing Person is quirky Talking Heads-esque new wave, bow wow wow worldbeat, offbeat experimentation ala The Slits and The Raincoats and deliciously dark surf-rock. This may appear to be a disparate range of influences yet prove to be enjoyable and engaging.

Life Size Marilyn is a little grungier, parts bringing to mind Mudhoney’s garage rock sensibilities minus the impenetrable wall of feedback and with a good deal more melody injected while Die Tryin’ is even more impressive, recalling the influential lo-fi art-rock of The Velvet Underground as well as the blissful dream-pop of Galaxie 500. One of the album’s more progressive, experimental pieces it demonstrates that Dragged Up aren’t some ramshackle tuneless DIY weekend hobby affair with limited appeal. Instead, it demonstrates an intelligence and clarity of vision of a band twice their lifespan.

it demonstrates that Dragged Up aren’t some ramshackle tuneless DIY weekend hobby affair…

The aforementioned Young Person’s Guide To Going Backwards In The World sees anarcho-punk, the female spoken word sections particularly evoking the alternate version of The Guilt & The Glory by Conflict and 70’s glam-rock ala The New York Dolls being utilised. A curious combination of sounds but one which helps the track live up to its eccentric title as well as working incredibly well in the process. Professor Boo Boo Invents The Plague is one of the heavier tracks on the album with traces once again of Dinosaur Jr’s laid-back slacker vibes which blend in beautifully with the crushingly heavy Sabbathy doom on offer; an effortless cool pervading throughout the entire number.

Third Level, the album’s longest track at nearly nine minutes, is a trippy mellow psychedelic jam for the first six minutes in a manner recalling the likes of Samsara Blues Experiment, Naxatras, Yawning Man etc and one which proves a perfect counterpart to the album’s cover which, according to the album’s Bandcamp page, is inspired by Japanese woodcut art. After this point however, we are met by some scuzzy hardcore that contrasts nicely with the trippy Pink Floyd mellowness of before. The track appears to symbolize modern day life, idyllic hippy idealism being brutally cast aside for a cynical and grim reality. Whatever your interpretation, it’s a kick-ass way to conclude the album.

I have had High On Ripple on repeat ever since acquiring a copy, which for me is a true mark of an album resonating. I will be very definitely picking up physical copies of their releases and seeing them live in Preston very shortly, fingers crossed. Outstanding.

Label: Cruel Nature Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills