Our stomach growl in anticipation of your generosity.
Artistic growth is a must if a band wants to remain relevant, which is kind of a scary prospect when you’re trying to make your way in a genre as rigid and ridden with unwritten rules as hardcore punk.
If you dare to change, there’s always someone there to smack you back. Grow one way and you’re too soft. Grow another way and you’re too metal. Grow another way and you’re too poppy. Grow another way and you’re too arty.
It seems like the only way a band can win this loser’s game is to implode immediately, so it’s no surprise that most hardcore punk bands that stick it out kill their own hype by releasing the same old shit time and time again until they sink under the weight of the world’s collective boredom. (Of course, a lot of hardcore punk bands are rightly chastised for straying from their roots because they just plain suck ass at playing anything other than hardcore punk. But that’s a whole nuther can o’ beans.)
Which is why Fucked Up is so aptly named.
Over the course of their six-year existence, this Toronto quintet metamorphosed from a mild-mannered, mid-tempo, early Poison Idea-esque hardcore band of above average size and strength into a raging art-punk behemoth unlike any other. Their music is a shining example of the kind of glorious, magical noise bands can conjure up when they stand up and shout “Fuck the rules!” with every ounce of breath in their lungs.
And fuck the rules they do. Fucked Up gleefully spits in the faces of every self-appointed member of the Hardcore Punk Committee on Rules and Etiquette, who have generously provided me with a transcript of their first and final meeting with the band’s vocalist, Damian Abraham, a.k.a Father Damian, a.k.a. Pink Eyes:
“You want every song to be a straight-up sprint to the finish? Fuck you. We’ll make every song a sprawling journey, with intros, outros, twists, turns, peaks, valleys and all that other good stuff that makes music, you know, musical.
“You want our music to be stripped down, basic and raw? Fuck you. We’ll write songs with actual melodies. We’ll play layered guitar parts, and we’ll even drown them in effects if that‘s what it takes to get the point across. And we’ll throw in all kind of crazy crap like acoustic guitars and angelic backing vocals and spoken word parts and synthesizers and violins and bongos and flutes and shit just for the fun of it.
“You want our lyrics to be blunt and to the point? Fuck you. We’ll bury our messages in poetry and make all you spoon-fed parrot punks figure shit out for yourselves for once.
“You want me to grunt my vocals like a surprisingly literate caveman? Yeah. I’ll do that. But only because I want to. You’ve got nothing to do with it.
“In closing, fuck you. I’m leaving.”
Indeed. So, in case you couldn’t guess, I’m calling this one a definite must buy. Help support a band that’s blazing its own path. I hear that’s what this whole punk thing is supposed to be about.
The Chemistry of Common Life gets a rating of circle one. If you don’t get it, I’m not gonna tell you. Fuckin’ poser.
Pop music lyrics aren’t usually meant to be intellectually stimulating. They’re mostly just there to make us think, “Hey, neat, vague emotional sentiment! I, too, feel things about stuff! I feel vaguely connected to you, fellow human!” Then we tune them out to focus on the more important things, like the booty-shaking beats or the fist-pumping riffs or what have you.
I use this line of thought as mental SCUBA gear to keep my brain from drowning in the inevitable torrential dumb-pour that floods my car whenever I dare to increase the volume level on the radio to something higher than “OFF.”
Most of the time, it works. I can ignore the inanity. But sometimes I hear songs with lyrics so brain-stoppingly stupid that I can’t help but slap my forehead in disbelief at what I’m hearing.
(Aside: This is why I only rarely surf the airwaves in my car, because I fear that one day I will hear a song so profoundly idiotic that it will make me slap my forehead hard enough to break my neck and cleanly sever my spinal cord, paralyzing me from the neck down and leaving me helpless to do anything but sit and softly sob as my organs fail and I slip into the cool abyss of death with someone like, oh, I don’t know, let’s say Fergie singing me my final lullaby. Neurotic? You betcha.)
Enter Buckcherry’s “Too Drunk…”, possibly the most perplexing party anthem to come down the top 40 pike since P!nk’s clubrat cocktease anthem “U + Ur Hand.”
Here’s the story of the song: a super scumbaggy guy really likes booze, drugs and sex. Like really. Like, really. Not very surprising so far. Sleazy hair metal revivalists singing about partying and fucking is like ultra-conservatives bloviating about the pagan ways of the godless LIEbral media. It’s how they breathe.
But there’s a twist in this torrid tale! You see, our hero routinely hits the bottle so hard that when it comes time to do the dirty deed, it don’t get done. The thing is, the song doesn’t make this sound like a bad thing at all. In fact, Josh Todd sings the chorus -- “I’m gettin’ drunk all night/I’m gettin’ drunk all day/I’m gettin’ drunk all night/I’m sorry but I have to say/I’m too drunk to fuck!” -- with such gusto that you’d think drinking yourself into eunuchism is what all the cool kids are doing these days. (“None of this getting laid shit for me, boyo. Whiskey dick is where it’s at!”)
Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought that the traditional main objective of the sleaze rocker was to, as this very song so eloquently puts it, “get so many women coming after me/I put some pussy on layaway.” Isn’t it counterproductive to this mission to proudly scream from the rooftops about your critical equipment failure?
Maybe this song is some kind of reverse psychological ploy to get female listeners to help Mr. Todd with his little problem, preferably by sucking him so skillfully that merely recalling the act will make him ruin his leather pants.
Maybe it’s a cautionary tale, like a PSA for junior date rapists (“Think, don’t drink, or you won’t get that pink!”).
Or maybe I should stop thinking so hard about stuff like this.
“Too Drunk…” gets a rating of 69. Hee hee.
Cute gets cuter
I’m sure at least some of you remember my review of Cute is What We Aim For’s Rotation, wherein I called out male emo adherents for being a bunch of crypto-jocks who feign sensitivity in the pursuit of pussy. A few weeks after it was published, some kid left this message on Paul Fallon‘s answering machine:
“Listen, hi, um, I would like to say this to the dude who wrote the, uh, Cute is What We Aim For… Rotation… um… review… That dude’s a straight faggot and has no idea what he’s talking about, and I would prefer if you didn’t use names because the Beast fuckin’ sucks dick. Nobody reads this piece of shit.”
Thanks for the feedback, mystery man! Please, allow me to retort.
Your message is a perfect example of what I wrote about in my original piece. You, the emo boy, fantasize about being a James Bond-level manly man. You want to fuck all the bitches that life throws your way and crush all of the weaker men -- the faggots, as you might put it -- under your heels.
But, alas, you were cursed with somewhat of a conscience, a nagging voice in the back of your head that reminds you that outward sexism, homophobia and douchebagginess are looked down upon by much of modern society. So you wrap yourself in a cloying, sad-sack façade and try to “nice” your way into the panties of any woman you can trick into putting up with your constant world-weary whinging. You somehow rationalize that emotionally manipulating women into sex is better than just being direct with your desires.
And when you’re backed into the corner by the truth, you puff up your chest and try to flex your muscles like the alpha male you so long to be, only to have the ironic youth-small t-shirt and girl jeans that you use as your armor of deception tear apart under the strain, revealing the wannabe meathead that lies beneath.
Way to blow your cool, chief.
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