It’s a mystery to me how one little peaceable welfare state has managed to crank out so many pissed-off bands. It ebbs and flows, but it seems like there’s always at least one Swedish wolfpack making a big splash in the hardcore pool. What’s funny is that so many of them sound nearly the same, and have for the past 20 years. Ever since Anti-Cimex (who took their name, as Latin students, from a pest-control firm), and not counting a few forays into metallic crossover and execrable pop-punk, Swedish bands have been the standard bearers for ragingly fast, politically charged, straight-ahead hardcore.
Stockholm’s Sunday Morning Einsteins don’t bring anything new to the table, but they’ve got the old and borrowed parts down cold—and that’s meant as a compliment. Echoes of Swedish greatness—Svart Snö, No Security, Totalitär, Avskum, Moderat Likvidation—resound on every track, yet this five-piece makes the rehash sound as urgent and vicious as it did the day Anti-Cimex wrote “War Machine.” Or the day the Shitlickers wrote “Spräckta Snutskallar.” Or the day Mob 47 wrote “Kärnvapen Attack.” Or the day…(Andy Smetanka)
Fucked From Birth
If Sweden has long cornered the market on one kind of crustiness, the Bay Area of the mid-to-late ’90s was ground zero for a new kind of damage, cooked down from equal parts Black Sabbath and blasting grindcore beats. It’s been done before and since, this mixing of sludgy metal and ripping hardcore, but rarely quite as nastily. Artimus Pyle has outlasted many of its contemporaries, and judging from Fucked from Birth, they aren’t petering out anytime soon.
You might suspect that a band named for the “wild man” of Lynryd Skynyrd would display other outward signs of a sense of humor, but nothing could be further from the truth. Fucked from Birth is grimly serious hardcore, as stark and nihilistic as you’d guess from the album name and cover art. I don’t know what got into them after the Civil Dead 12”—and that was a high-water-mark harsh record—but Artimus Pyle has gotten exponentially heavier, more brutal and—dare one say it?—sophisticated in the roughly five years since. And they really pull this craziness off live, with just one guitar player? Amazing!
Most people, of course, will just hear this and wince. Too bad for them. (Andy Smetanka)
Artimus Pyle and the Sunday Morning Einsteins play Area 5 this Tuesday, May 25, with locals Ass End Offend.
3 Putt Blues
Hoo, boy. Novelty records can be pretty tough to take. And this is a novelty record—just ask local picker Brian Hall, who plays for his gravy at the Golden Corral’s all-you-can-eat buffet Thursday nights with his band, Mountain Groan, and describes 3 Putt Blues as his winter project.
Guess what—it’s actually pretty funny! The lyrics are all about the proverbial good walk ruined, and they were enough to make me laugh even though I don’t know a widget from a gimlet. “Keep Your Head Down Dummy” actually provides helpful tips on grip and swing and still manages to stay funny at a jaunty bluegrass clip all the way through. “3 Putt Blues” is actually 12-bar blues, with plenty of talk-singing lyrical Lebensraum for Hall to name-check his favorite golfers and the clubs he’s been drooling over in the pro shop. And is that the low hoot of a jug in the left speaker?
It’s not all comedy, either: “Magnolia Lane” is an instrumental, and “Hope” is a tender ballad to the inner game of golf, “heart and soul laid bare.” “Golfing with My Mom” lays bluegrass-cum-mariachi guitar-picking over a stock Casio beat while Hall affectionately pokes fun at his mom’s game. All in all, a lighthearted musical gift for the golfer in your life. (Andy Smetanka)
Old Time Relijun
OTR’s Arrington de Dionyso is pretty much a self-made man on all counts. It is his art that adorns OTR covers, always resembling the mythological figures and beasts spotted in vision quests. His guitar technique is, I believe, learned not from manuals but from found notes and personal tunings. It all adds up to pure intriguing astonishment—not in a humorous way, but metaphysically. The crux of OTR is repetition, with drums and bass hardly straying from the bent and bluesy path, and Arrington’s plucking guitar right behind.
But the sound to behold is his voice, the bellowing of a preacher or a shaman sustaining notes or dropping down for a throat-singing venture. This guy sings like every song is either ritual or exorcism, in songs about the Earth’s tantrums, animals, light. In the eight-minute epic “Cold Water,” over two (maybe three) notes, Arrington transcribes the journey of water from the sky to the Earth and back. It’s amazing.
Some will see the beauty in the eye of the beholder, others will poo-poo this as artsy, but I call it genius. (Bryan Ramirez)