Chain & The Gang In Cool Blood

[K Records; 2012]

Styles: sassy gospel “yeh yeh”
Others: The Make-Up, Weird War, Nation of Ulysses, David Candy

Thirteen-Point Program to Review In Cool Blood

1. What is this thing called “sassy?”

The first ever crowned “Sassiest Boy in America” via Sassy Magazine in 1991, the apparently undeniable authority on everything “sassy.” This comes up often in conversation about singer Ian Svenonius, and I’m thinking, “what does it, this ‘sassy’ mean?”

Sassy (adj) (from the Oxford English Dictionary): “Impudent, saucy, ‘cheeky’; outspoken, provocative; conceited, pretentious; self-assured, spirited, bold; vigorous, lively; stylish, ‘chic’.”

…I see…

2. (Weird) Semantics War

The war on the semantics of capitalist/American phrases. Example: Song “Free Will,” not against “Free Will” per se, but the philosophical/politically ascribed definitions of “Free Will,” “Free Speech,” “Free Love,” etc.

3. More singers; more sassy?

For someone who is concerned with “personality” (TMT Ian Svenonius interview), there is no hesitation to share the limelight. Vocal duties shared with co-singer Katie Alice Greer are the “sassiest,” by far.

4. (The Make-Up of) a sassy band

This blurb makes the band sound like they were stolen from Tav Falco’s Panther Burns:

“At the drum kit, Fiona Campbell is certainly ‘Not Interested’ in anything but beating skins and screeching tire rims — unconfirmed sources are quick to peg Campbell as ringleader in a dangerous auto-theft ring in her spare time, but these ‘Free Will’ recordings only suggest she’d ever commit crimes In Cool Blood.

Seems like they are “(Living in the) Panthers Cage.”

5. Sassy sound

Mono: the new stereo? To insert some authority into the matter, I’ll rough quote from a record store employee who recently told me (paraphrased), “I’m glad they’re re-releasing all these garage classics in mono; that’s how it should be!”

Compared to the ridiculous stereo panning in the last two Chain & The Gang albums, mono was a good choice.

6. The concept that overrides the music…

…is no concept at all. A common problem in Svenonius-associated acts: The ideas behind the band seemed better thought of than the band itself, as diagramed by this: Weird War > Chain & The Gang > The Make-Up = Nation of Ulysses. HOWEVER, In Cool Blood sounds much out of this misstep, as in it sounds like a band being a band, rather than a band trying to sound like the idea of a band (see previous two Chain albums).

7. Sassy didacticism

The American “sassiest” vs. the culture of self-absorbed “hip posturing,” as described with sarcastically narcissistic tone in “I’m Not Interested In (Being Interested In) Pt. 1.” “Why don’t they put me in a magazine?/ Now that’s something that I might actually read.” Self-absorption criticism from someone who has been in a magazine, veeerry interesting.

8. Do I keep saying the same thing over and over?

Svenonius’ Marxist leanings have always had this didactic feeling about them, and they’re the teach-iest/preachiest in this song and the following: “Free Will,” “If I Only Had A Brain,” “Certain Kinds of Trash.” In lieu of artistic/aesthetic philosophies noted anti-didacticism writer…

9. …Edgar Allan Poe would hate this album.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

10. If you would again consider “I’m Not Interested”

The afterthought is better than the fore. “I’m Not Interested Pt. 2” is groovier, shakier, funkier, and, dare I say, sassier than its precursor.

11. They live by night

“Heavy Breathing” is so friggin’ strange and creepy, and because it is somewhat unexpected, it’s one of the best songs on the album.

12. Worst party ever

“Suprise Party” could have totally been cut from the album. It’s redundant as all hell and slackish in a way that doesn’t really jibe with that “Lovin’ Feeling” it tries to channel. This song feels like filler, but it isn’t as bad as final track “In Cool Blood,” which is heavy filler. The song sounds like a promotional song, complete with lyrics — “The new album from Chain & The Gang” — and makes me feel like I should be watching a YouTube clip of the band tuning, rehearsing, recording, wearing goofy headphones, etc.

13. In Cruel Blood

…is not how I would like to end reviewing the 13 songs for this 13-point program. Despite the shortcomings, the trips, and the lags, it’s a vast improvement from other “decimation of rock ’n’ roll” rock albums created under Svenonius’ watch. A classic embodier of contradictions, a Marxist with a strong individual persona, I’m glad Svenonius is still trying to frame his ideology into the ideological world of rock ’n’ roll. In Cool Blood is best when it flirts with its self-constructed nasty intentions and doesn’t try to play nice.

Links: Chain & The Gang - K Records

Most Read