I’ll be honest, when I first listened to “… Punch Nerds… ” I wasn’t very impressed… it seemed to lack the maelstrom of heavy quasi-psychedelic fury that I’d taken from seeing them live. On second listen I was absolutely loving it.
If a band blows me away with a sonic assault – like Space Church can do live – I’ll just go with it. But if they don’t then I get thinking, and I like to understand where the band’s coming from, what they’re trying to do. And – to make this into a a weird geography analogy – whilst Space Church are coming from a country I know and love, their home town is actually a little bit off the beaten track and I’ve never really even been close. I don’t know the local customs.
Overall I think the three key points to take from the album are these.
(1) They love Slint, the overall vibe and feel.
(2) They really don’t give a fuck – musical tangents are not to be feared by Hopkins, Markwick and Nixon. There is practically nothing about this album what makes me think there is any sort of agenda beyond making the album that they wanted to make.
(3) Whilst they don’t sound like Sonic Youth they do have that old SY ability to make music which is clearly in no small part experimental, whilst also just ticking along in a really pleasant, easy-on-the-ear way. A band that sound even less like Space Church who share this ability are Fugazi. I like Fugazi. Not that all the music that any of these bands make is easy on the ear, just that they can do it and do it well.
[Author’s Note – Slint are a band I’m only just starting to get my head around, and I am only doing so because Space Church class them as an influence.]
The guitars at the start of Ships are really nice. Really nice. They get less nice (but as great if not greater) after a couple of minutes when the drums decide to turn the song upside-down and shake the change out of the guitar’s trouser pockets. Definitely a stand out track. If I say I like the first bit best, then the middle bit next best, and the last bit last best it sounds like the song gets worse, but it actually gets better as the minutes pass. How does that work?!?!?
Punk spirit. Post-punk at times, definitely, but theirs is a very American sound. I’m thinking the stomp of Snowballs. A song that fades out to sitars and trumpets. Go work that one out.
The guitars at the start (not the very start) of from (Don’t Let) Cuba In are the sort of rock n roll that I have heard described as proto-punk thing that I love, hitting the perfect balance between rocking and falling apart. Proto-punk? Do I mean proto-grunge, this kinda reminds me of Flipper? This song breaks the mould by not completely changing half way through, though it does come close.
Banjo Song starts with nice bass, then drums and a fairly clean, low key guitars, and then spoken vocals. Then something else happens then there’s one of those guitar lines Phil does that kinda mixes alt with a dollop of something much more classic rock, gives a nod and a wink, and is simultaneously utter class and a total piss-take.
And another thing. It helps when there is nothing about a band that’s a bit crap. Individually the guitar, bass and drums are all interesting at worst, superb at best. I have no idea the range of Phil’s vocal talents – he pretty much sticks an almost spoken vocal style with added yelps and screams… it all works well and there’s ain’t no sign of the dodgy just-about-singer who ruins many a band.
Chlorine is not a song. It is a bassline, some bonkers drums and a bit of scratchy feedback. It is also Breaking Bad. Chemistry teacher plus drugs.
Glue Factory lollops along under some superbly understated by unhinged drumming with some proper lazy guitar noodling, then the spoken word bit, then repeat. Then the Miami 1980 part… why am I even trying to describe this.
That’s it, not every song can get a paragraph. In the unlikely even that you really need more going on in an album than I have talked about above then you’ll likely find it in the song that has the most punk and most ambient moments on the album, or the longest song on the album.
Don’t expect pop songs, they are nowhere to be seen in this desolate post-rock landscape. And it does give a feel of wide open desert, maybe at dusk… which is weird cos really the album is a lot more like a bustling City with all sorts of weird and wonderful (but mainly weird) people, some loud, some quiet, entering and exiting your life in quick succession.
Its overtly yet low-key batshit crazy. It is fucking nuts, but in a quite understated way. WTF.
If you like post-rock, or old school US alt-rock, or just weird shit, then buy this record. And check ’em out live.