Dead Meat The King

[Flingco Sound System; 2010]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: nu-pigfuck, noise rock
Others: The Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard, Helmet

The label “pigfuck,” when first coined by Robert Christgau, referred to a generation of no wave rock misanthropes like Sonic Youth, Swans, and Big Black; bands that were reacting against the perceived fundamentalism and orthodoxy of hardcore punk. This deconstructive, post-hardcore noise-rock that the term originally applied to has proliferated into many of the most rigorous and provocative sounds of the past 20 years, from Providence noise bands like Lightning Bolt to post-grindcore/post-rock bands like Neurosis. The term “pigfuck” nevertheless survived the evolutions of its original referents, and through the late 80s and early 90s came to refer to those punks who sounded like they had gotten really, really drunk listening to their dad’s classic rock album collection, like Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard, Pussy Galore, and Killdozer. This incarnation of post-hardcore took on some thickness and groove, abandoning hardcore’s cheap speed for a menacingly drunk, lumbering stomp. Two decades after pigfuck became a recognizable sound and sensibility, it is no longer a direct response to hardcore, but instead just another style to be appropriated. San Francisco’s Dead Meat join other nu-pigfuck bands like Pissed Jeans, Daughters, and Clockcleaner with their strong debut album, The King/Early Recordings, an accomplished, short release that shocks most of the pleasure centers that a good pig fuck should.

The nine songs on this album flash by like a drunk half-staggering/half-falling down a flight of stairs. They all feature taunting, lazy vocals; a dick-swinging groove; and a fat, round guitar sound. When they pick up the tempo, they veer a little too close to generic garage-rock territory, but this is rare: they stick to hard-rock riffage with a midtempo, classic rock stomp. Dead Meat have the sound of late-80s/early-90s pigfuck down perfectly, but they eschew the glorious mess of a Butthole Surfers or a U.S. Maple song. Their songs are short, almost disciplined. Rollicking “By Myself” has only three lyrics — “Not coming with me this time/ I’m going by myself/ And there’s nothing you can do about it” — and they’re just suggestive enough to support a song that runs under two minutes. Their songs capture a single phrase or an inept put-down, and then they end. They are pointedly truncated. Whether this a punk, sarcastic move or an expression of boredom, it is not because of lack of interest in this listener.

I recently saw Dead Meat live, supporting a reunited Scream. The usual line on a band deriving the least bit of inspiration from Jesus Lizard is that you have to see them live to really appreciate them. Don’t see Dead Meat live. At least not for a while. Their studio recordings are much more confident and aggressive. Their live vocals lacked the character of those on “The King,” and the band seemed too young and unmarked to be committed to a genre based on confrontation and danger.

Pigfuck was a reaction to hardcore’s fundamentalism and moralizing, but there is virtually no orthodoxy in any genre of music now. Every style exists in every one of its manifestations, as every style that has existed is being revived. There is a danger that danger itself has become formalized. Dead Meat is a competent band — they appeal to my own tastes more than the rash of garage-rock revivalists and self-satisfied shitgaze underachievers they sometimes share stages with — but I can’t say they’re a singular band. Keep an eye on them; they’re writing some great songs, and if you’re in an angry, drunken stupor and can’t find your legs to put on one of your old Amphetamine Reptile albums, they’ll do nicely.

Links: Dead Meat - Flingco Sound System

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