Chavez Cockfighters [EP]

[Matador; 2017]

Styles: math rock, indie rock, revivalism
Others: Don Caballero, Polvo, June of 44, Slint, Mission of Burma

Should you purchase/listen to/publicly endorse Chavez’s comeback EP, Cockfighters? Take our fun five-minute questionnaire to find out!

1. Did you enjoy either of the New York four-piece’s two previous albums, 1995’s Gone Glimmering and 1996’s Ride the Fader?

A. Hell yes — these two records made good on the promise of early math and post-rock, injecting the angularity and experimentalism of Don Caballero and Slint with actual drive and intensity.

B. Nope. They had their moments, but ultimately they were a bit repetitive, a bit dry, and a bit emotionless. They displayed good musicianship, but not especially good songwriting.

C. Um, who the hell are Chavez?

2. Do you like it when your favorite band from 20-plus years ago reunites? Do you like reunions in general?

A. Oh yeah, I dig reunions. They give people a chance to see a band live after having missed them the first time around; plus, they give bands who prematurely stopped operating a second chance to evolve their art.

B. No. I’d prefer it if we saved our collective attention for newer bands, rather than for bands who lack the grace to bow out as soon as their relevance and originality dries up. And really, I don’t see the point in going back to the past, except to admit that we’ve given up on the present.

C. I just like whatever’s popular. If a reunion is popular, I’ll like it. If a reunited band are being talked about by Pitchfork, I’ll like them.

3. How much are you a fan of 90s-era math rock?

A. I’m a massive fan. I think math rock completely revitalized the tired form rock music had assumed in the early 1990s, taking its basic template and making it do weird, unexpected things. Not only that, but it provided a happy compromise between the austerity of grunge and the virtuosity of classic rock.

B. Not at all — math rock was for awkward boy-men who liked rock music, but were too snobbish to like any rock music popular enough to be a hit with the people who mocked them at high school.

C. What does mathematics have to do with rock music?

4. What’s your opinion on distorted, high-treble guitars, the kind that hit with a hard, percussive edge yet still sound surgically precise?

A. They represent the best kind of guitar sound there is. I mean, they have the power and weight of distorted metal/rock guitars, but they produce a greater clarity and focus of expression.

B. They’re for nerds and hipsters. Seriously, I’m sick of every band I see whose guitarist has a fucking Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster strapped around his scrawny shoulders. Show some backbone and individuality for God’s sake!

C. I’m not sure if I have an opinion on that. They’re okay, I guess?

5. And what would be your opinion if your favorite band — who made copious use of high-treble distorted guitars and an angular, math-esque style — introduced a little more groove into their sound and softened their razor-sharp edges a little?

A. I’d be thrilled, especially if they, I don’t know, worked Eastern-tinged modes and riffs into their arsenal or punctuated their bursts of right-angled aggression with more contemplative and emotive guitar work.

B. I’d be cool with that, but if their sound became more generic and watered-down as a result, I’d be disappointed, at least insofar as it entailed their becoming less distinct from the kind of cookie-cutter modern rock that’s drowning Spotify, SoundCloud, and the rest of the internet.

C. I don’t care how much “groove” they introduce into “their sound” — if I can’t dance to it, it’s not music.

6. How much do you like the EP as a musical format?

A. Very much — it provides refreshingly concentrated bursts of music, leaving you wanting more and geeing you up for any full-length release that might be on the horizon.

B. Not at all — it’s what a band does when they don’t know what to do, when they’re feeling blindly around for new ideas and hoping that fan or critic feedback will point them in the direction of the most promising ones. Plus, EPs can be too short, inconsequentially short.

C. I like music, isn’t that enough?

7. Which one of these is your favorite band-reformation of semi-recent times?

A. Polvo

B. Slint

C. Bush

8. How satisfying do you find compact, linear song structures, the kind that see a single riff or progression developed to a crescendo, and that see a song play out in under four or even three minutes?

A. Extremely satisfying. There’s something profound about simplicity, something that makes what you’re saying all the more substantial and momentous. Linear song structures strip away all distractions, enabling a particular melody, phrase, or harmony to reach its full potential.

B. Not at all satisfying. They seem a little aimless, as if the lack of any verse-chorus structuring, modulations, or cycles deprives a song of a “story,” of meaning. It’s like you’re just repeating the same thing over and over, even with changes in dynamics and volume.

C. What I find really satisfying are hooks.

9. Do you appreciate allusions to “cocks,” phalli, and male chauvinism in your music?

A. Oh yes, I appreciate them so much. I think they’re a representation of the biggest problem in society today — the problem of power. Because it’s a matter of luck as to whether you’re born with a penis or not; they represent power’s arbitrariness. They represent its self-perpetuating nature: you have power because you have a penis, and you continue to have power because you already have power.

B. Absolutely not: if there’s one thing I can’t stand in art or cultural discourse it’s talk of “the phallus” and “phallocentrism.” Why can’t people just say sexism, (gender) inequality, injustice, or authoritarianism? Talking about anything else just confuses the issue, just introduces some vague, ill-defined metaphysical abstraction into the concreteness of history.

C. I’m happy with allusions to anything, as long as they don’t get in the way of a good tune.

10. How many times a day do you jerk off?

A. At least twice.

B. Not as many times as I used to.

C. I don’t jerk off; I have sex.

End of questionnaire; see your results below!

• Mostly A: You should definitely buy/listen to/publicly endorse Chavez’s Cockfighters. You might find it a little short, but you’ll also think it an impressive return to form for a band that’s been inactive for the best part of two decades.

• Mostly B: You should perhaps “investigate” Chavez’s Cockfighters, if only to be able to dismiss it more convincingly and promote your “superior” taste.

• Mostly C: You probably found your way to Tiny Mix Tapes by mistake. Anyway, you don’t need Chavez in your life. You never did.

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