09 April, 2016

Recent Love (Healthy Life Choices Edition)

Lamb's Legs, A Dozen Torsos Within Spitting Distance
The liner notes mention Soup Moat. M. reviewed them here a while back. That must be how Lamb's Legs heard of the half-assed shit-show this blog has become. Lo! my empire! Lo! my legacy! How pitiful thou hast become, derelict in thoust duties my once proud and shining achievement, thou are naught but a scrap of candy wrapper floating in the wind on a blustery day. How I lament you.
Yeah, SD&A isn't exactly the hotbed it once (thought it) was.
ANYhoo, let's get into the review. You know, why I opened up shop today and - Holy shit. It's almost twenty after four and I'm not blackout drunk yet!? Am I... old now? Fuck, man. Anyway, yeah, opened up the shop today to talk to you about this little Milwaukee outfit called Lamb's Legs who - let me check... Yep. The liner notes say "Lamb's Legs was..." so, you know, you're not going to get to see them any time soon. So, A Dozen Torsos Within Spitting Distance is a posthumous release. Shame, I'd have seen these guys. How are they only now on my radar?
I mean, the email I got from them refers to them in the present tense though with "is". A lot of "is"es. So, perhaps we have license to blur and mix our tenses throughout this review. You'll never get to see this band except for when you get to see them because they didn't break up except they totally did.
Being that they're from Wisconsin (aka the State That Stole All Ohio's Serial Killers) (Dahmer was ours, goddamnit!), you know they're going to get this noise rock thing down right. Well, maybe I wouldn't say "noise rock", evoking a sense of big bruisery beat 'em ups, perhaps more post-punk, playing with sturm und drang, dissonant chord voicings, melodic bassline sweeps, drums that seem to roll along smoothly rather than bash everything in sight, and I'm just going to say it: Holy fuck, that dude sounds like Nick Cave. Really. From the minute he opens his mouth, I'm all, Is that Nick Cave? over here.
"Taklamakan" is a slow burn for an opener but stick with it, not every opening track is a baseball bat upside the back of the head. It gets a little artsy post-rocky toward the end with the bass but it doesn't go all Jaco-Pastorious-left-in-a-dark-room-with-a-bag-of-indica on you. The bassist does just enough and then pulls himself back. He's just breaking out the burnt sienna crayon instead of the orange one, serving the song.
OK, how do I put this without sounding like a dick? Look, that goddamned bassline needs to be that way and we all know it. If it wasn't that way, it would be wrong!
You see? You see this? This is why I can't write a review on two energy drinks! All those other reviews? At least two beers before I even got started. Fuck, I reviewed Big Knife Little Knife drinking chartreuse and that came out OK. Right now, though, I'm second guessing every linguistic decision I'm making because I've started making healthy fucking life choices and doing shit like watching my fucking sodium intake and drinking Red Bull during the daylight hours. Yes, even on the weekends. Fuck.
Man.
OK, guys. Guys? Guys. Let's do the next song.
"Death To The Tunnel Shepherd" would've made a better opener in my opinion. This is all action and bluster and menace and it's the shortest song on the record. I hope this was / is the set opener for the live shows and I hope that Sconnies know what to do at a rock show (you know, opposed to the folded-armed statues that attend Minnesota rock shows) because this is easily the one that's going to cause some weird skank-headbang-hairball-hork dance on the floor. Not really a booty shaker, no, but it should('ve) drive(n) the masses to convulsions.
"The Flaying Song" comes in with a metal intro and then retreats into more subdued, haunting, psychological terror territory and this would've been the one where we would've seen Lamb's Legs' measure of control over an audience. Think of a more chilling version of the part of Otis Day and The Knights's "Shout" where it goes "a little bit softer now, a little bit softer now"; this would('ve) be(en) where we'd see a band start things off with a room full of folks throwing horns and bopping, pogoing, and then the band shifts gears and gets the whole room quiet and still. You know, like at any show in Minneapolis except in Minneapolis it's for the whole show. (For real, what is with these self-conscious fucks?) Would('ve) be(en) a sight.
"Knee Jerk" starts off with a lurching intro before getting into a straight-forward bee-buzz straight-eight section. If there's a starting point to recommend, it's going to be "Knee Jerk".
Side B kicks off with "Plague Song", a lumbering little beast that grows and grows and grows and is perhaps, especially when paired with "The Flaying Song", indicative of Lamb's Legs' Oxbow influence. I can definitely hear some Oxbow in there.
"I Want To Believe" is the most straight-ahead rock tune on this eight-tracker featuring a string of conspiracy theories that are mixed too low to hear every word of and drums that perhaps get as close to the classic kick-kick-snare four-time beat as they will anywhere on the record.
"Salt the Earth"'s bassline, holy shit. I can't play that. Can you play that? I can't play that. Goddamn. And then to come out of the chorus back into that bassline? Fuck you, dude. I know why this band broke up (except they totally didn't): The bassist must have broken his whole everything in both his wrists because holy shit.
"Glam's Baes" is the least malevolent seeming thing on this record and easily one of the best closing track choices I've heard a band make in a while. Going out on a note like this? This kind of exultant, nearly exuberant? When a lot of noise rock and post punk bands try to go out on a death rattle? I'll take this closer, thank you.
Overall? I thought the drums could've been a bit beefier. I hate to say the word "beefier" because this isn't fucking Arby's we're talking about but - Excuse me for a moment.
Hm?
Why, yes. Yes, I have switched to scotch. Why do you ask?
Look, you are not my mother! I am thirty five years old, I can fix a lowball of scotch at five thirty on a Saturday if I want to!
So, where were we? Ah, yes, my quibble with the drums. They could've used a bit more oomph. I get it, for the sound the band was going for, maybe that tight and dry Marquee Moon sound better served them and, hey, the drums are never buried under anything, I just enjoy hearing drums with a bit more ass behind them. From the performance, I'm thinking this was on the recording end of things and not on the drummer's end. I mean, he really is playing his ass off.
Because I'm a guitarist, I'm going to Mean Girl the guitarist in this band because that's what guitarists do to each other. If you're new to the whole guitar playing thing, just watch out because we throw shade at each other like we're on RuPaul's Drag Race. Like when you get me and M. in the same room? It's nothing but catty side-eyes between the two of us until I come for his ass with some biting remark about all the goddamned treble he uses and then he comes for me and reminds me that my band isn't even a real band and I need to take my Pinnochio ass on to Craigslist and ask Tinkerbell to make me a real musician.
Wow.
I just made myself feel bad about myself.
I can't say shit now.
I like the guitarist in this band. He plays like I play.
Damn.
I still feel bad inside.
ANYhoo!
For the sake of making lazy comparisons, I can hear allusions to Scratch Acid, the more aggressive side of Sharpie Crows, the more straight-ahead side of Oxbow, and the bass playing on the first Liars record. Well, better bass playing than what was on that first Liars record, really.
Goddamn, dude. I really hurt my own feelings.
Check Lamb's Legs out.

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