Try Me, Then Try This Record: Shut Up And Bleed

 

Every rock critic in the world needs to find a new adjective for Johnny Ramone’s guitar sound.  No, it cannot be described as a chainsaw anymore, and the release of the definitive Teenage Jesus & The Jerks anthology, “Shut Up And Bleed”, proves it eight seconds into “Red Alert”, the first song.  After Gordon Stevenson’s bass chord fades away, Bradley Field hits his lone tom in some semblance of a drum roll, then smashes his hissing cymbal, and Lydia Lunch’s guitar finds the midway point between a chainsaw and white noise.  Then, after thirty-five seconds, the song is over.  “Red Alert” surfaces in two other versions throughout the 21 Teenage Jesus & The Jerks tracks (The other eight tracks devoted to recordings of Lydia Lunch’s other band during the same time period, the strikingly weird Beirut Slump).  Each version of Red Alert is equally vicious, and that can be said of every track on this album.  Even when the basic sound is augmented with James Chance’s saxophone (for example, the earlier versions of “The Closet” and “Less Of Me”), or when Beirut Slump grinds out an oozing, melting sound, “Shut Up And Bleed” is an aural assault that somehow remains compulsively listenable.  Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron, but there are two things about Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Beirut Slump that keep “Shut Up And Bleed” interesting. The first is the focus on shorter songs; the longest track, the second version of “The Closet” lasts not even four minutes.  The second is the sheer weirdness and dark atmosphere the bands emanate; Teenage Jesus and the Jerks focus on slow dirges or quick fragments of songs that are cinematic in how they so completely conjure up an image of a torture chamber, through the haunting stop-start drums and bass and Lunch’s tormented one-note banshee wails.  Beirut Slump go even farther in their atmospherics, with Bobby Swope’s deranged vocals and lyrics (some of which are taken from the rantings of hobos) echoing over atonal dronescapes that seem like recordings of a mental patient preaching to a post-nuclear war wasteland; on the instrumental tracks, like “Staircase” and “Tornado Warnings”, the desolation and horror are overwhelming.  This is astonishingly powerful music that never refuses to be ignored as “noise  for the sake of being noisy”.  Essential.

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One Response to “Try Me, Then Try This Record: Shut Up And Bleed”

  1. yoyo. just the norm, stalking you. Laughing out loud again at your open letter to RHCP.
    Love your blog of course, wish i was as coherent in my rants about music. I find that lyrics that are even dumber than RHCP’s are most Boys Like Girls songs. IF you decide to gift a rant about music to anyone, make me the first and take the song Hero/Heroine.

    :D:D:D:D:D:D
    bisbye (bisous bye)

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