As raw as open-heart surgery on a subway train, John Brannon's caged lynx howl found its third release valve with Easy Action. The former Laughing Hyenas and Negative Approach vocalist has here added guitar to his repertoire, even if only to augment the depth of the band's sound.
In the early '80s, Brannon's uncompromising, pointedly aggressive Detroit hardcore outfit Negative Approach, along with Boston acts like SSD and DYS and D.C. groups like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and S.O.A., established the paradigm for American hardcore music. Negative Approach was just that: the sonic equivalent of a chair through a window, with Brannon venting and ranting frustratedly and indeed, negatively. With the termination of the band in the mid-'80s, Brannon, with guitarist Larissa Strickland, founded the equally devastating -- though roots-inspired -- noise punk-blues hybrid Laughing Hyenas, a band often cited for its influence on punk, indie rock, and grunge from the early '90s onward. The Hyenas were a more apt vehicle for Brannon's tortured baritone; he has truly been blessed with an excellent, terribly authentic vocal range and feel, moving from a throaty scream to blues crooning in the space of half a measure, unselfconsciously, and without contrivance.
After a spell of five CDs and numerous tours, the Hyenas called it quits. A few years later, Brannon, along with former Hyenas bassist Ron Sakowski -- who also worked with the Necros -- formed Easy Action, a blend of amped-up Detroit garage rock, the rusty-nail blues of the Hyenas, and the scraped-knuckle aggression of Negative Approach. Easy Action proved to be a way for Brannon to howl as demonically as he had in the early and mid-'80s and still croon when the mood struck. The band released its first two singles on Reptilian Records in 2000, then followed a year later with a self-titled album, also on Reptilian. ~ Patrick Kennedy