Be Your Own Pet
Be Your Own Pet
Once upon a time, this ungainly beast we tentatively call indie rock was a scrappy little miscreant. It didn't sell cars or iPods or cruises or anything, in fact it was so amazingly unprofitable an enterprise that only broke-dick college students kept it afloat. It didn't even fit into well-worn niches, not because it was so fantastic. In fact, its otherness was framed by its categorical 'awfulness' proclaimed by the people who liked 'real' music. And truth be told, they were mostly right. The songs didn't make a lot of sense, the bands were the antithesis of tight, the singers, as a whole, couldn't. But it was OK. The spirit was there, and we as fumbling new adults felt the same way - we couldn't do anything right or with any discernible precision, but fuck it we are doing it.
What it did was open the doors to expression to a bunch of misfits that were not ever going to make the pep squad otherwise, and moments of brilliance emerged. New Alliance with its kerosene sparklers burning out in your hands. Elliptical enclaves in Athens GA making that chance meeting of a Rickenbacher and poetry on the dissecting table of college radio. That spirit seems to largely vacant from the scene, but Thurston Moore, guitarist for Sonic Youth, a band that sold out openly and brazenly yet mostly avoided the "sell-out" blacklist, hopes to keep things too cool for school with his ongoing imprint Ecstatic Peace, and Be Your Own Pet, might be the first awesome band to come out of there.
BYOP's debut is chock-a-block riotous and righteous post-punk jams with lead singer Jemina Pearl threatening to lose her ever-loving shit all over you. It's like angry gals free styling over "The Wonderful and frightening World of the Fall" , that same sense of 1-2-chord strafing runs and velocity. While Pearl's narrative is rooted more in traditional cognitive sense that the Fall's Mark E. Smith, the barking-dog-at-the-end-of-its-chain impact is still ever present. Much like the lauded Fall album, most of this record runs together for me, but that's OK. Just line up successive cubicles and classrooms to trash cartoon-stylee and you can keep it in repeat.
But in keeping with the spirit of a review, if not the letter, I'm compelled to offer some standouts, just like how my alternative influences were compelled to mimic song-craft while getting across their point, so here goes: "Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle" is an infectious chant that will get you screaming "We're on two wheels baby!" even from the seat of your SUV in evening traffic. "Adventure" has great dips and swoops in its sing-song melody and post-tribal percussion, sounding a little like the few glorious feral moments in Siouxsie and the Banshees' otherwise spotty career. "Stairway to Heaven" is unfortunately not a spasmodic rave-up cover like I was hoping, but instead gloriously inane couplets blurted over the bands imploding core. Brilliant, it gives me the shakes a little, like the record as a whole. They are probably already poised for great success, soundtracking an American Apparel soft-core porn ad campaign or something that I am hopelessly too unhip to have register on my crusty radar, so I will pretend that this missive is bleeding out from a Xerox-ed cover cassette that I'm not sure where it came from, and remember a simpler, twitchier time when we were glad you popular, frat-boy, motherfuckers hated our music anyway.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com