Thursday, June 10, 2004

The following is a contribution I made to Foxy Digitalis, probably the best weird music e-zine situated out of the midwest, or is that the only one? They cover my favorite artists regularly, including the one and only Steven R. Smith (Thuja, Mirza, Hala Strana) most recently...

No DoctorsHunting Season (Go Johnny Go) CD.

Despite all suggestions to the contrary, there has been something of a lull in worthy blasted garage punk records lately. Too many groups out there are taking the easy way out and copping the White Stripes already borrowed moves (thank you, AC/DC!) to churn out a predictable brand of “garage stomp” that’s about one step down the latter from Lenny Kravitz in terms of worthlessness. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the White Stripes, but what’s up with this IPOD sound prop shit? Bands like Brooklyn’s Oneida, Santa Cruz’s Comets on Fire, and Dunedin’s Futurians are doing their best to keep it real while laying down an intense noise law that lesser tike’s best heed, but it’s the mighty No Doctors from Minneapolis who are burning the constitution and pretty much starting from scratch. The infectiously bleak hypno-blues skronk of Hunting Season is one of the most singularly pulverizing and simultaneously necessary punk (or is it jazz?) records I’ve heard in almost a decade.

Those who dare venture through this dark alley should be prepared to be accosted by a murky, raw fidelity, stumbling presentation and multipart mongrel shouts and caterwauls. No Doctors are just like the name implies: a messy, untrained band of rabblerousing glue-sniffers who seemingly have little in terms of technical ability, but an endless supply of anarchistic spirit which, combined with the former, somehow manifests as compelling barn-burning riff explosions punctuated with the kind of maniacal acid guitar leads and stabbing sax blurts that tickle the libido like electrodes attached directly to the nipples.

This sort of stumbling noise/art punk thing is a tricky business though. Hundreds of bands attempt to mine aural gold from clattering chaos, and largely waste our time and theirs in the process. I felt a similar distress with No Doctors’ self titled debut album on Freedom From, which I actually quite liked, but also thought seemed a bit too intent on a kind of scaled back, lopsided Beefheart blues that simply lacked balls. Every one of these firebombs is a munition waiting to be fired though. The lurching blues of bookends, “Ketheric Boner Template” and “Yonic Scintilla Redux” work more as a conceit than a signifier, where “Campaign Special” up-shifts to a Flying Luttenbachers worthy spazz-crunch on its intro, before breaking into primal blues punk that sounds sort of like Dial M For Motherfucker era Pussy Galore bashing out mid 90s ‘Luttenbachers, and pretty much sets the blueprint for what’s to follow: Basic skeletal blues riffs are pounded, carved, coaxed and mangled with a malice not witnessed since the Velvet Underground burned down Chicago in 1968 with extended sonic meltdowns emanating from the core of a three hour version of “Sister Ray” (which is something I only dreamt, but theoretically possible), only that intensity is squeezed into ten songs here, just over 34 minutes of primordial blues punk.

Listeners may be repelled on first listens, but those with a thirst for raw power should have no trouble realizing just how visionary these young lads can be, and how the abhorrent production is actually one of the record’s strongest assets. Hunting Season is a brutal slab of raw punk jazz that deftly answers the call of a war torn world with its own feral call to arms, succinctly summed up in the blistering, “O Say Can You See”—“Step up to the mic. / Would you rather ride on a bike? / HELL NO!” Move over, MOAB; there’s a new turf-blaster in town.

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