D.I.Y. Revolution: Bargaining Deadly With The Thick Un's
As a reviewer of music, it can often be a quite seamless plummet into the trap of comparison. The notion of simply penning that a specific subject of review sounds like a particular band or borrows influences from a certain artist is more often than not an attractive one to reviewers, especially if there is a rush to beat deadline. We've all been there, but the truth is that not only is it lazy writing, but it often treads the line of treating the reader with contempt. Luckily for me, and for you, when reviewing The Thick Un's no such luxury is ever afforded.
Fugazi. I want to say that The Thick Un's in some small way sound like Fugazi.
The Thick Un's is a recording project undertaken by a very interesting man, Marc Kennedy. He is the former frontman and songwriter for angular garage noisesters Crumb Catcher and also played in the whimsical but no less blistering Codeine Haze. Hailing from Burlington, North Carolina, Kennedy now has his hands full with The Thick Un's, essentially a DIY project recorded out of his Crumb Catcher studios and together with the recording and promotion of his work, also handles the artwork and merchandising.
The Cramps? I think I hear some Cramps in there.
The band's debut E.P. is 'Deadly Bargain', a four song DIY masterpiece that with each play swallows the listener whole with a sweeping cacophony of noise, melody, riffage and vocal musings leaving the test subject spinning in circles trying to chase the figurative tale of what just leapt out of the speakers.
The fact is this: as berated and harangued as digital technology gets by older dinosaur types -occasionally, myself included- there is no denying the seismic effect that the ease of use and accessibility of current technology is having on today's music climate. Not only do we now have access to endless streams of incredible music recorded in somebody's bedroom at the behest of our fingertips, we are now also seeing that as inadvertently as it may appear on the surface, musicians like Marc Kennedy are revolutionising the industry for the better and at an irreversible force. Testament to this is that 'Deadly Bargain' in its entirety was played, recorded, mixed and mastered by Kennedy in his studio using just "beat up gear and free recording software."
Wire? Definitely Wire.
Taking six months from conception to completion, 'Deadly Bargain', for want of a better description, oozes raw meat. The opening title track begins almost in a loungy sense; if said lounge set itself in a galvanised technotron pit of post-apocalyptic wasteland and dadaist existentialism... still, loungy nonetheless. The basic drum hook and noodling guitar kind of lulls into a false sense of warmth as the listener seamlessly shifts between notes and the track's innate fragility. But that doesn't last long. Between Kennedy's hollering vocals and the songs unpredictability of rhythm, remaining comfortable is not easy.
Okay, I'm going to say this and get the whole thing out of the way. The Thick Un's remind me of Czech Republic instrumental post-punkers, Sabot. There. I said it.
Track two is killer, literally. 'Killer Hunt' begins with a jungle drum thumpity-thump worthy of Diddly, yet underneath, as heard in the opening track, a succession of synthetic explosions take centre stage. And it's this small snapshot of a most intriguing EP that symbolises its uncomfortable greatness. Usually, a 4/4 of jungle drum will transport a listener to a place elsewhere, perhaps otherworldly. But the urban menace explosion layered beneath... well bugger me if it's not a complete mindfuck! Is it urban or jungle? I don't know. Yaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!
True to form, the rest of 'Killer Hunt' not only meshes a sort of urban/jungle supernova, but projects images of 1960s California surf beaches, an acid-induced robot-led armageddon and other such whimsies. By the end of track two, you know damn well that you're in for a wild journey.
Track three, the longest track on the album, is the rollicking swamp monster of 'Save the Grin'. Things happen in this track that I'm not sure are actually there. As with most of 'Deadly Bargain', the swirling of noise and influence kind of have you looking around the room, inspecting left channel, right channel, the doorway, the window, for something that may or may not resemble intangibility. The confusion of that sentence alone represents my state of mind after listening to 'Deadly Bargain'. I have no idea what's going on, but god damn I'm enjoying it!
The mastery of timing a euphoric release in a song is something not to be taken for granted, and it's bands like the afore-mentioned Fugazi that often do it so well. They keep their audience so tightly-wound with a restrictive cluster of noteage, and then BOOM!, the sweet release of a 4/4 onslaught. With little option to let loose for the duration of 'Deadly Bargain', when that release does come -and each song has its own special variety- it's only the more compounded and blissful. Kennedy, whether by design or complete accident, has timed things to perfection.
For me, the final track is the clincher. 'Wild Snakes' is essentially a free-for-all freak-out resting its laurels on a great rockabilly hook while again scattergunning a whole swag of other musical nuances throughout. By far the most up-tempo song on the album, this beast of a number also showcases Kennedy's vocal talents in full swing. The man does not hold back, roaring, savaging, monstering the mic to epic proportions that can only bring a smile to the listeners face. Speaking of smiles, the mini guitar solo at 1:33 is worth the price of admission alone.
I promise you this: 'Deadly Bargain' will most definitely be the best twelve-and-a-half minutes you will take time out for this year.
I'm a fan.
*The Thick Un's plan to release all music in E.P. format. The next one is due for release soon... watch this space.