Album Review: The Bad Bad Bad - Side B of the Split Tape w/ Yugoslavian Boys

by Mark Laffin
Halifax’s favourite noisy fuzz-rock duo is back with a new split release with the U.K.’s Yugoslavian Boys. As much as I’d like to review the entire record, (or tape that is, as that is how it is being released) we were only sent the 4 Bad Bad Bad songs. In other words, this is essentially a review of “Side B” of the featured cassette. Mind you, I wasn’t fortunate enough to gain the full experience of listening to the tape itself, as I was sent a customary digital file of the songs. Perhaps some of the retro esthetic is lost in the digitized format, but even without having to dig out my old Sony Walkman, this recording still sounds like a crusty old tape dug up out of a shoebox in my basement. As expected, this is a decidedly lo-fi sludge rock affair that is abrasive and unpolished, but not without some serious hooks. In fact, if you consider the extremely rough and unrefined mix, it’s actually rather impressive how the music itself holds up. Just don’t expect to hear all of the lyrics.

“I Fought an Alien (and Won)” blasts through the sonic ether with a commanding drum beat and a clever guitar riff that gives the song a very distinguished groove. This is heavy garage rock, but the track has a slight European dance floor feel that reminds me of Death From Above 1979. Singer Jake Seaward exudes a bored yet audacious essence in his delivery that gives the music a further sense of insolence that is almost arrogant. Although, it does all makes sense. I mean, these guys must really be cocky to be release music that seriously sounds like it was it was recorded on a Mickey Mouse cassette player in a public washroom. But hey, that’s rock ‘n roll right? You really have to admire the simple intrepidity and confidence in these songs to present the material in such a fashion. The next song, “Enemies” is a psychedelic garage-punk romp that sounds like something left over from The Stooges’ Funhouse album. The layered vocal track is eerily unsettling over the clamorous racket that serves up the rough start-stop rhythmic groove.

“Cold Hearted” is a slow driving sludge rocker that sounds like a long lost Sub-Pop demo tape. The song starts with a guitar intro that sounds like a somewhat stock riff, but the rhythm section quickly drags the song down into a half-time slow burning dirge that carries the mood of a slow descent into madness. Seaward’s frustrated ululation only adds further to the song’s sheer neurotic intensity. This song is extremely effective in creating some very nervous atmosphere. The last song, “Hell Raiser” features a bluesy Zeppelin-esque guitar riff, which with the production quality paired with the band dynamic comes off sounding much like the White Stripes being fronted by Iggy Pop. It’s also quite catchy.

I do very much like this outing, but I didn’t like it quite as much as the band’s last effort, Real Reel-Reel Bad Bad Bad. This album is missing a bit of the in-your-face rock riffage that dominated the last one. However, this recording does stand as a further testament that this band doesn’t need any studio acrobatics to showcase their brand of raw, guitar-based rock. These guys are a local live favourite, and I get the vague impression that they purposely record music that sounds like shit, just as a statement that they’re really just all about their live show. This is not ear candy by any means, and there is certainly much lacking in melody and compositional depth. However, the charm in this band’s sound lies in its outright simplicity and the raw presentation of it all. Not to mention their unmitigated bravado. It takes a serious set of balls to publish music so minimally produced and with an overall sound that is so scathing and cold. Having said this, I think these guys are a fundamental archetype of understanding the true ethic of rock and roll. They play being completely true to themselves and their own artistic vision. There are some who will get it. Those who won’t? Fuck ‘em.



Kyle said...

I agree with your last statement, I have the tape if you still want to hear side A.

Kyle said...

My computer sucks so this might get posted twice.
I agree with your last statement. I have the tape if you still wish to hear side A