Blood On The Wall, Psychic Ills
Empty Bottle, Chicago
Thursday, December 8, 2005
It’s hard to tell from here what we’ll be saying 2005 was the “year of” in the rock perspective. The Arcade Fire, maybe. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were the default hype-band in a calendar lacking them, metal’s resurgence lay dormant in a surge of bands all somehow related to either Thin Lizzy or Black Sabbath, and hip-hop fully tightened its stranglehold on the pop charts.
Perhaps we can start focusing on 2006 with Blood On The Wall: part Class of ’77 punk, part indie rock encyclopedias, but mainly X. I’ve personally never jived with X. Listening to Exene Cervenka and John Doe shout irrespective of tone and meter frankly was boring, recording tech in the early ’80s was rarely good enough to be called shitty, and, fuck it dudes, I was born after punk. To me, there was never a world without punk, so revolutionary to me they were not.
But to consider X in the context of Blood On The Wall necessitates mention of Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo, two later bands who would bind X’s aesthetic into the halls of grad students, people far too academic to see punk as something sustainable. So Sonic Youth stretched while Yo La refined. #Brad Shanks# has a bit of that surfer-in-NYC spunk Thurston Moore made sole claim to in the ’80s (“Hey Hey,” “Right To Lite Tonight”) while (relatively) quieter moments such as “I’d Like To Take You Out Tonight” recalls those YLT recordings that seem like witnessing a light bulb burn out without hearing the “pop.”
Awesomer (Social Registry) assigns itself to start the funeral pyre for New York garage rock, and then jump in itself. That its sweaty ass soils us on the way infamizes while calcifying Blood On The Wall’s worth.
Openers and labelmates Psychic Ills would merit comparisons to the legion Jesus & Mary Chain imitators if they were more fearlessly pop. Scores of minutes spent banging on percussion debunk such mythic intentions. Magnificently, PI take droning, Velvet Underground-inspired indiedom out of the junkyard and back, never once revealing which is their school and which is their home. Their forthcoming full-length naturally offers them the breadth of scope their prior EPs have not, and it works well as an alien radio transmission. Granted, this might be boring. as. fuck. in a live setting, but if you want a forecast call Tom Skilling. We just tell the days of the week.
Volcano# squeeze between the two bands on the bill.
— Steve Forstneger