OK, first, knock one back and
alright, pour one out and
then take this pill and
now, light one up and
wait, finish that music theory homework and
OK, dog-ear that Kundera and
lastly, hats off and
OK, now check this out:
Wait. What happened? OK. Sorry. OK. Yeah, breathe. OK. Wow, yeah, four guitars now that I think of it. With bass, that’s 28 strings. I know. Were they all playing all of the time or did some of them just, like, sit out sometimes? Wow. Yeah, I don’t really know. Wow. OK, OK…
Let’s make sure we’re on the same page: hard rock is having a moment. We’re a little over a month out from Car Seat Headrest’s literary alt-rock masterpiece, Teens of Denial; it looks like, in April, Cheap Trick apparently released a new album; Guns N’ Roses totally played Coachella (although, to be fair, the latter might say more about the curators of that particular moment and not the moment, which is more of the one I’m talking about); and DIY rockers like Sheer Mag, A Giant Dog, Hank Wood & The Hammerheads, and Downtown Boys have been tearing it up with the fretboard jammers, unapologetically whippin’ out slammer after anthemic slammer for some time now.
It seems like the time would be just right, then, for a new Diarrhea Planet album, especially one that sees the band in a more refined, careful direction. Unfortunately, for all the polish and gut that Grammy-winning producer Vance Powell brings to help turn diarrhea to gold, the songs lack idiosyncrasy, and Diarrhea Planet’s winking anachronistic irony is lost. Where the aforementioned punks (Car Seat Headrest, Sheer Mag, Downtown Boys, etc.) succeed by earnestly redirecting sounds intended for arenas toward warehouses and safe-spaces, Diarrhea Planet have an unfortunate gravity-pull toward corporate avenues such as SXSW and Late Night With Seth Meyers, where their class-clown abundance can be taken in and commercialized with a certain boys-will-be-boys shake of the head.
Politics aside, there are a few good hits here. “Bob Dylan’s Grandma” makes good use of the four guitarists at the band’s disposal in a fitting ode to shredding (and rocking too). “Ain’t A Sin To Win” is a fairly Misfits-y high-octane shredder about “ripping up the streets of gold” in a motorbike race against Jesus. The song is one of few moments where the explosive momentum of the band broke its way through the studio process and onto the album, driven forward by varied guitar textures and propulsive drumming. “Headband” begins with a Joey Ramone impersonation, then spends the next seven minutes evolving and transforming, covering a wide array of readymade riffs and builds.
However, it’s the Ramones-style intro that suggests a direction in over-production that Turn To Gold might have benefited from: mimicking the radical radio-ization that Spector brought to The Ramones for Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, Diarrhea Planet could have used their already well-accomplished wall of sound as a canvas for overdubbed instrumental variation, pushing the whole thing into a truer sonic excess. And the performances on Turn To Gold are bogged down by reverb and the mostly-uninspired vocal performances get lost in the mix, lyrics in tow. The second time I listened to Turn to Gold, I got pretty bored and ended up clicking through this pretty offensive clickbait list: http://hypemind.com/25-freaky-people-you-wont-believe-exist-ad/
I ended up seeing the same Viagra ad about 25 times.