More Melvins than the Melvins dare - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #79

Just what the fuck is going on with the guys from Single Mothers? Their website cleverly proclaims but just what are they about? I let ya in on this question because after mulling it over for countless spins of their latest opus I’m still not sure. It’s the Melvins doing LA punk, more than the Melvins already do LA punk I mean… But it’s more than that ‘cause they also lay down a drone track on Drowning of the most very astutely observed Master of Realityisms and Iommiations that comparisons with the sonic elite are inevitable. There’s also a bit of sampling and some hardcore references. To be honest, it’s a thoroughgoing mess of an album, nightmarish broken house of mirrors through which y’ can only blindly stumble with no real understanding. Be sure, this is a horrifying creation from some seriously broken individuals. But it’s compellingly splintered, the pathology is just enticing.

Just as I’m getting whipped into the sort of meth frenzy into which one inevitably slides in the presence of someone who is fractured, the final ten minutes saunter through the room and calm me right down like three glasses of cheap wine on the worlds roughest bender. Slamming down notions that this record was doing things. And by doing things I mean in that Videodrome way. Videodrome asked some pretty compelling questions: what if the censors are right, what if all this perversion actually changes us? And Single Mothers drop the same questions in between threats and strangled squeals and startled yelps, or encourage their captive head audience to ask… exactly what the fuck are these guys on? I don’t know but I’m not happy turning my back on them. Usually I’m opposed to sub-sub-sub-sub Melvinite dribblings because the Melvins aren’t actually that good (there are probably only about three people who actually like everything they’ve ever done) but I dig everything they do for the oddness, and the prolific recording and the attitude that shows they either truly care about nothing at all, or tremendously much that people think so. Well Single Mothers hit that same bum note, this punk/stoner duo can be imagined spazzing out on stage, the dark of the lights making it unclear if he really is having a fit, or is eyeing the audience for a reaction. Well you’ll sure get a reaction from me, howling to the moon about Coyotes in a song that comes second only to that Dust number about raping a camel [This is a sentence that requires a bit of diagramming – Ed.].

It all starts out boringly enough, and I’m worried that all this regular sounding stuff was going to be all this album had to offer us, until the Jeffrey Lee-Pierce howl from a Victorian basement as heard through a sewer grate in old Landan taan and some seriously menacing electronic drippings. From here the album goes straight-jacket insane, switching up so as if you had a vinyl copy you’d assume the speed kept changing. Delicately creeping songs give way to crowdsourced high-octane rumbles which in turn drop straight into venomous guitar workings like a feverish hash head desperately trying to strum out the last notes of his song before his guitar melts in his hands. The Melvins weirdness? In abundance. My girlfriend puts up with my Melvins obsession even when I forced her to admit that Honey Bucket is one of the best riffs ever and that fucked-up opening of Sweet Willy Rollbar is a masterstroke, but she asked me to turn off this noise rumbling through the flat because it was frightening. I agree, as an album it’s either Of Mice and Men dangerous loping unawareness or very conscious darkness creeping up on you like Genghis Khan on an iron horse. White Lightnin’ Sun is straight outta the Melvins weirdest playbook, probably marked never for distribution lest it get onto some airwaves and start everyone in earshot going Scanners (by fuck this is a good post for David Cronenbourg fans), either cuzza the weirdness crawling up your trouser leg brandishing a combat knife or cuzza the solo that comes literally outta nowhere like a paratrooper two-footin’ yer face when you’re looking for UFOs. It’s a helluva solo, one for the end-of-year lists because it descends into such a mung fug I got completely lost in the snow, notes hold on with continuum obsession and dig their electric nails into your mortal flesh as you try to get away. ‘Course it all fades, leaving the bass still strumming away like a slowcoach.

Single Mothers recall, in their most wild moments, a lil’ show I caught down at a watering hole in the belly of Edinburgh, down on the old cow run, the Cowgate which still runs brown with shit most nights and is home to a dozen hovels of questionable sound quality and tinnitus acoustics. Where tiny stages are pawed at by drunks the drug-riddled performers mistake for green-scaled gila monsters, where hipsters stand at the back looking awkward at the wretched mass of heads groovin’ in front of them to the most fucked up music they coulda imagined. It was in a particular hole of this nature I’d been sent to see NY head-crackers Gay For Johnny Depp, who were seen into the scene by local group Secta Rouge. The Secta Rouge show was the most astounding live performance I’ve seen yet. A mad, mad scene of genuinely horrifying circus imagery and barked threats. A wild man on stage in a wrestling mask repeatedly drooling on himself and spitting into the crowd, the band regularly leaving the stage to assault random members of the audience… Nobody stopped them, because nobody with the authority to bring the hammer down would ever have believed what was happening in that sweaty basement for 40 terrifying minutes. It happened, and this Single Mothers album is bringing it all back like a wicked acid flashback. Even the song on this opus that is closest to radio is filled with innuendo and sounds like the production of a genuinely snapped individual who is sure that pop-punk exists but has never grasped the subtleties. The whole album may merit an entire other column because I’m nowhere near coming up for a name for what exactly Single Mothers are doing, but I know at this early stage that I like it. The more I hear it the more I wanna hear it summore and on it goes. Why not go down to their bandcamp and give what you can and decide for yourself just what the fuck is going on with the guys from Single Mothers?

Written under duress by Steven.

2 comments:

duff mckagan said...

single mothers changed my life

harry cloud said...

for those who give a shit, this group is no longer single mothers. it is now just called Harry Cloud.

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