05 October, 2013

Recent Love (Uh, Does Anybody Need To Talk About Anything? Edition)

Nonagon, The Last Hydronaut
OK, so here's the thing about the new Nonagon record: It's darker than last year's People Live Everywhere. It's still recognizably and most definitely Nonagon but it's not the same Nonagon. OK, I'm going to make a really bad comparison here, so bear with me. You know how everybody and their brother is losing their shit over these fucking Nirvana reissues? OK. Good. Wanted to make sure you remembered that band. Got them in your mind? They had that mulatto song and the hey, wait, blah blah blah? OK. Good. We're all on the same page of cultural relevance. Here's where I'm going with that: If People Live Everywhere was Nevermind, The Last Hydronaut is In Utero.
See? I told you it was going to be a bad comparison.
And no. That does not mean that No Sun is Bleach. No Sun is The Dhalia Seed's Survived By.
Alright, this is just turning into a fucking mess.
Long and short of it is that The Last Hydronuat sounds a sight angrier than I'm used to hearing Nonagon. The band still careen and skitter but the arrangements are more straightforward, less mathy than I've heard. It's kind of ridiculous to say that Nonagon stripped things down for this record when you consider that they're a no-frills power trio to begin with, employing minimalist DIY ethos to begin with. But it sounds like something has been extracted from them on this outing and I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it.
And that's not to say I don't like Nonagon's "fuck you" to the twentieth anniversary re-release of Krist & Dave Make Courtney More Money. I mean, come on, it's Nonagon. When the fuck am I going to get let down by Nonagon? It's just that the Nonagon on this record are playing with a different kind of fire than they had before. John throwing out the "fuck you"s in the middle of "Elvis"? That's new. I can't recall ever hearing a Nonagon song with a "fuck" in it. Maybe I'm not listening closely enough. And speaking of fucking, "Hydronauts", in a few places, sounds like Nonagon's putting in a bid to start making fuck rock. I'll endorse that. Robert's already a manimal on bass, I bet if you get him on some Funkadelic and James Brown shit? With the way John can do the clang-chicka thing on guitar and Tony's snare work? Do you have any idea how many babies would get made after a Nonagon show? Put Nonagon on tour and watch out for a population spike in each city nine months afterward. Do you have any earthly idea how absolutely fucking disgusting a Nonagon show would be if they started playing fuck rock? Just sweat and spit and naked people that smell oddly of grape seed oil. And, fuck, I'd be at every show because that hot bartender's not going to bone herself. The gals that would even bother wearing panties to the show would do so only to throw them on stage. And then Nonagon's wives (the Nonettes?) would be all jealous and suspicious and shit. And then the band starts doing coke off of stripper tits while the Nonagon wives slowly turn into a group of Scorsese-directed-period-piece-Sharon-Stones that start drinking Cape Cods before noon and wearing dark dark dark oversized sunglasses and then cue the refrain of "Gimme Shelter" for the scene when Nonagon are coming out of the stadium only to see their tour van blow up and then we do a vertical wipe and we find the band on a Huey over the jungles of North Vietnam looking dissolute and depressed, wary from their years in the shit, having seen too many friends die and now the killing is automatic and the value of life is but naught to them and they've all but forgotten only the basic tenets of Nietzsche and the only one of them that can bear to smile through the existential crisis they're having is starting to look a little like Willem Defoe and then the movie jumps forward to the band dressed in gold robes on a bed of money in a big red room and there's more coke because this is a Scorsese movie and Jack Nicholson shows up and does that weird hiss-laugh thing he does and Michelle Pfeiffer calls them all a bunch of bastards and then they have to go home only to find their wives are all remarried to Ray Li-fucking-otta and then there's another car bomb just for good measure, this time to the tune of "Sympathy for the Devil". Can you imagine how fucking awesome that Nonagon show would be? All they have to do is start playing some fuck rock.
However, Nonagon aren't playing fuck rock, so we'll have to wait on that one.
In the mean time, we have this vaguely angrier Nonagon crafting - actually crafting - smart and in a few places anthemic, in a few others topsy-turvy punk rock. As they won the Cycle Rage award last year, they've pretty much clinched it again. I listened to it on my bike and I found that The Last Hydronaut was, to my ears, even more appropriate to listen to while battling Hennepin Avenue traffic. Particularly "King Corky". "King Corky" and "Elvis" back-to-back? Damn, son. I'm wondering if anybody needs to talk about anything.
I'd like to expound on some angle of The Last Hydronaut other than the overt pissed-off-ness on it but that's the most striking part about it. That's why I said "overt". Is it My War? No. Is it Hate the Police? No. While it is, I think, the most straightforward record the band has made yet, it's not that caliber of straightforward. It has elements of exalting waltzes and lumbering, thuggy beat-you-ups that set it apart from those staples of hardcore punk, which was never an element I ever heard on their records, honestly. But where No Sun and People Live Everywhere were perfectly OK to pass in a dark alley, The Last Hydronaut is the one that looks like it's just waiting for you to say something. It's not antagonistic so much as it's antagonized. And it also happens to have a switchblade in the ass pocket of its jeans. It's the record that sits at the end of the bar, smokes unfiltered cigarettes, never takes off its leather jacket, reads nineteenth century French Dadaist and mid-twentieth century Beat literature, and has a Glasgow smile. It's the record that would challenge Tyler Durden to, well, just about anything. Even a spelling bee. And win.
To cut my fucking hyperbole out, there's something I said earlier: It's not antagonistic, it's antagonized. There's a feeling of having "just about enough of this shit" on this record. And it's pretty damned great.
This is also the first Nonagon record to come out on the label they started with the Austerity Program, Controlled Burn, and you can buy it there. You should buy it there. You should really just buy it. Or, you can do like I did: Start a shitty blog, befriend the bands, and get a review copy. But that will take you some time and you're not as good with words as I am. So you should just go buy it. And be nice to it. It's already pissed off for some reason.

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