The Milkshakes – “Talking ‘Bout… Milkshakes!” (1981 / 2016)

I wasn’t familiar with The Milkshakes (sometimes written as Thee Milkshakes) until I ran across a couple of re-represses the other day. The band was quite prolific in the 1980s, putting out something like 14 records between 1981 and 1987 plus a few singles and one last album in the early 1990s. How had I not heard of these guys?

Their debut was Talking ‘Bout… Milkshakes!, originally released in 1981 and re-released by Damaged Goods in 2016 (Damaged Goods re-pressed a handful of Milkshakes titles in the 2000s). I saw the band described in another blog as sounding like the Kinks when they were at their edgiest and rawest, and that seems pretty apt. The base style is 1960s rock/pop/surf, with an unpracticed feel to it, garage rock that sounds like it’s literally in someone’s garage. Songs like “Bull’s Nose” are surfy psych without being overly either, not an homage as much as a next logical step in the progression of sound. The anguished “Don’t Love Another” is like a sugary pop song that had a knife stuck into it and twisted to make sure the wound doesn’t easily heal. The Milkshakes take the source genres, get into a fist fight with them, and record the bloody nose and sore ribs that result.

Often I find garage rock records to be repetitive, like the band only knows one way to play their songs. But that’s not how I feel about The Milkshakes. Yes, they have an underlying foundational “sound”, but they take it in a wide range of directions, all of them pretty rad. I also picked up the Damaged Goods pressing of their 1984 record Nothing Can Stop These Men, and it’s every bit as good. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for The Milkshakes during future digs.

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