02 September, 2012

30 Reviews In 30 Days: Review #2

Bogshed, Let Them Eat Bog-Shed 12" (EP) (Vinyl Drip, 1985)

On this debut EP, Bogshed took a bunch of what by all rights should have been astonishingly irritating material and turned it into six extremely catchy little anthems about, well, all sorts of bizarre things. With Bogshed, you have a pushy and extremely overbearing bassist who makes his instrument the focus of every song whether it's really appropriate or not, along with a guitarist whose amp is too small so he bitterly scratches away with his clanging, acidic, truly offbeat yet melodic guitar slightly over or slightly under the massive bass lines. The drummer bashes away in a straight-ahead manner while this is all going on, and then there's… the singer. The singer has somehow managed to combine the vocal and lyrical stylings of PiL-era John Lydon, early Mark E. Smith (particularly when he used to hoot in a speed-addled squeal, cf. "Cary Grant's Wedding"), a drunken West Yorkshire asshole making fun of you, and an extremely aggrieved horse, yowling away in the most sardonically semi-tuneful manner possible over the racket. I mean, the first words on this EP are a cartoonish proclamation of "Panties, PLEEEEEAAAAASE!," expressed in an unbelievably annoying, semi-melodic falsetto shriek. The lyrics are disconnected streams of deliberately obscure British in-jokes about sex, enunciated in the same ridiculously sardonic and parodic, squealing voice. Yet, the whole first song works insanely well. The guitar and bass keep locking into an extremely unexpected, but extremely satisfying chorus/bridge that is just total pop - there's no way the guitar line should work on top of the bass line during the verses, yet it's not outright dissonant either - it just sounds somehow off, which makes the payoff during that chorus/bridge/whatever it is that much more awesome.

The whole EP is like that. This is underhanded, scratchy, weird, but extremely intelligent and humorous postpunk with a big, if not immediately noticeable, pop influence and really smart guitar/bass interplay. You'll hear some great melodies throughout (most often in the loud, crunchy bass lines - "Spencer Travis" especially features a huge and catchy bass line), but every song has at least something to offer. If the band doesn't include a catchy melody somewhere, they'll at least keep it wacked out enough for you to wonder just what exactly is wrong with them as humans (the one-two punch of "Slave Girls" and "City Girls" especially comes to mind on that front). Oddly enough, however, the strangest material is often the catchiest material as well: "Hand Me Down Father" features a heck of a vocal hook, no matter how bizarrely it's sung, and the brilliant "Panties Please" has already been described well enough. It's long out-of-print, but you can find this EP online, and I'd search it out if I were you. Possibly the funniest moments come during "Fat Lad Exam Failure," in which the singer sees fit to start off the song with a ridiculously stupid, congested vocal inflection, and also in which the band sees fit to insert the most truly pointless mid-song freakout for absolutely no reason at all. This is an unfairly obscure EP that's sure to appeal to mid-'80's postpunk fans, especially if they like postpunk that comes from The Fall's side of the genre instead of Joy Division's.

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