You can tell a lot about a band – and where they’re going – by the company they keep. It usually serves as an indication of the circles a new band will often find themselves in, as well as the severity of the push they’re likely to get compared to their peers. With Birmingham’s Table Scraps, they seem to be doing a lot right, nabbing opening slots with the likes of The Buzzcocks, Fat White Family and Idles, impressing the latter so much that frontman Joe Talbot given them some huge exposure during his BBC 6 Music takeover. With all of that in mind, it feels as though Table Scraps are just a few steps away from being something of a real name within the post-punk and garage-rock scenes.
But there are literally hundreds of bands for whom the same could be said about; what makes Table Scraps different is how much extra is added alongside those core elements, whether that’s bits of punk, psychedelia or, in terms of the snappy simplicity of the writing, even ’50s and ’60s pop. Altogether, Autonomy finds its footing in a very Black Lips-esque ground of relatively simple, hook-driven songwriting overflowing with snark and a snotty disposition, but arguably even more streamlined. Tracks like Sick Of Me and Lyin’ Thru Yer Teeth are as simple as they come with bashed-out chords and the repetitive, off-the-cuff songwriting that’s deeply entrenched in the Ramones state of mind, but everything just feels generally grottier. The guitars are darker and dirtier, and the triple vocals of all three members are given no polish or management, leading to an album that’s so rough and ramshackle, but in the best way.
And yes, all of this can make Autonomy seem a little basic and one-note, particularly when it’s stretched out to its longest limits on More Than You Need Me, and to be fair, there’s precious little that seems to grow or evolve over the course of this album. But then again, the majority of these songs are short enough for that not to be an issue, most orbiting either side of the two-minute mark, and the overall sound is decently compelling enough for fans of a scrappier, less refined brand of indie-rock. The grubby riffs and fat basslines of Takin’ Out The Trash and Frankenstein brilliantly fit in a proto-punk mould that thrives on its simplicity, and even if nothing really stands out to any great capacity, it’s a consistent and enjoyable listen that’s easy to pick up on.
Even if Table Scraps do remain fairly lowkey for now – with a sound like theirs, it may be difficult to break into the mainstream consciousness to any significant degree – but as a more youthful face of post-punk and garage-rock that handily steps back from cliché, they’ve done well to prove themselves on Autonomy. When placed against its nearest counterpart of Idles’ Brutalism, it mightn’t be as righteously furious and fiery as that album was, but Table Scraps seem to deliberately avoid that in order to carve out a niche that works. That alone is encouraging for the future, if only for Table Scraps to demonstrate exactly why they should be paid attention to.
For fans of: Black Lips, Idles, Fat White Family
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Autonomy’ by Table Scraps is released on 23rd February on Zen Ten.