Jezebel Music: The Routes "Do What's Right By You"
In my blind, ignorant times, as I held fast to 2003 and prayed the Soledad Brothers would get back together, I sometimes felt that garage rock was dead. It’s not, obviously. But bear with me for a second here, and take my mental journey. “All the Detroit groups I love have changed or become culturally irrelevant!” I wailed. “All the other music journalists make fun of me!”
But of course I was horribly wrong. Garage rock is still alive and well, in a couple of different forms. Now I’m all for Thee Oh Sees and other indie lo-fi bands who keep that garage rock sound alive while still being acceptable to reference in the ‘I know cooler music than you’ game, but I’ve found, when you want pure, unadulterated garage rock…classic, 1960’s style garage rock, you need to step outside the country.
Like to, oh, I don’t know…Japan?
The Routes are an interesting bunch. Founded by a Brit, Chris Jack, joined by Shinichi Nakayama (drums) and Toru Nishimuta (bass) in Japan, they are currently signed to a British record label. And their songs are in English…a fact which both delights and slightly disappoints me. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for group sounds.
Anyway, on “Do What’s Right By You” they really embrace the classic vibe. The music video is filmed in a sepia tone, and it’s in mono. Okay, maybe that bit made me appreciate modern technologies more. But I digress.
“Do What’s Right By You” follows the standard, tried and true, garage rock formula. A good guitar and bass line, solid drumming, and lots of energy. Lyrics are good, but they’re usually about girls or drinking. Or both.
Jack has a voice meant for the genre, gravelly and with that British, Billy Childish-esque twinge on the ends of his phrases. To return to the formula, this song falls into the girls’ category:
“I try to tell you what you want to hear / I wait with open arms but you won’t come near
He even lets us know he’s not like the other garage rockers…you know, the ones that drink:
I go to work / don’t gamble or drink / Don’t make you cook / or make you stand by the sink”
Seems a nice enough guy, but whoever she is just isn’t having it. The chorus neatly explains it all. Like Clarissa, if she did a high-pitched yell afterwards.
“My love is true / but I never seem to do / what’s right by you”
The breakdown in the middle features some truly skilled guitar playing, and is what really makes it a tune to return to. The production isn’t ridiculously loud, or overly distorted, and that innocent, classic feel will give it mileage. “Do What’s Right By You” is like comfort food to the garage rock set.
And who doesn’t love comfort food?
by Allison Levin