Imagine The Clash… but also imagine that they’re Malaysian and, dare I say it, quite a bit better. What you will then have in your minds, ladies and gentlemen, is the four-piece band whose latest release, Subversion, is quite possibly one of the best albums to have been released by a band from the Malaysian underground for quite a while. Who, you may ask? Why… The Garrison, of course.

Made up of Sidh on drums, Kecik and El Pheng on guitars and Jie Riddimer on bass, all of whom are familiar faces in the Malaysian punk rock underground, The Garrison play deliciously old-school (but definitely not outdated!) punk rock with strong reggae and dub inflections and some very catchy choruses, powered by a propulsive rhythm section that brings to mind The Clash by virtue of mining the same musical territory as Joe Strummer and gang, while admirably managing to not come off as derivative, unlike most nearly every other new(er) band that tends to get mentioned in the same breath as The Clash.

Their vocal opposition to the mainstream music industry (see, for example, the blurb on their MySpace profile, or the lyrics to “Subversion Rock”, whose chorus goes: “I don’t need your radio hits / I don’t need your reggae pop shit”) hasn’t stopped them from penning songs whose melodicism and musicality hints at something all-too-rare in music nowadays: crossover appeal without any watering-down or “selling out”.

The Garrison are indeed a band to look out for.

text by Azzief Khaliq