#37. Sleaford Mods: Key Markets

There’s a lot of overlap between punk and hip-hop. Both genres are known for their rebellious, pissed off lyrics, forceful percussion, and aggressive vocals. Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods live entirely within the center of that Venn diagram. Jason Williamson’s half-rapped, half-sung vocals, reminiscent of the sinewy Johnny Rotten sneer, spit over Andrew Fearn’s lo-fi bass and drum beats.

There’s not a lot of variety on Key Markets, but they don’t seem to care. In fact, not caring is a staple of their sound. Williamson’s lyrics are mostly meandering stream-of-consciousness rants about everything under the sun. On opener “Live Tonight,” he trashes everything from “the lie of work ‘til you die,” to 80s Welsh rock-and-roller Shakin’ Stevens. Fearn’s repetitive, chromatic shell of a punk beat propels the vocals forward.

Sleaford Mods’ sound was clearly honed on intimate stages in backrooms of Eastern England bars rather than huge arenas. Their music is meant to be up close and personal. Whether Williamson is snarling about supermarkets or cigarettes or aliens, he sounds so close that you can almost feel his spit spray on your face and his beer spill at your feet. Most of this intensity comes from his pseudo-rapping, but on songs like “Tarantula Deadly Cargo” he proves that he can sing with equal intensity. His voice and Fearn’s grungy garage rock beat are alluring enough to distract the listener from the fact that the entire song is apparently a metaphor for farting in a car.

Keystone Markets isn’t creating the biggest waves across the world, or even across England. Their music exercises little variety from album to album. But much of their charm lies in the fact that they honestly don’t seem to give a damn what anyone thinks of their music. They’ve captured the underground with their hybridized punk hip-hop. Nobody does what they do quite as well as they do it. If you’re looking for consistent, minimalist, aggravated rants, the buck stops with Sleaford Mods.