Sometimes I wish Amazon marketplace never existed. Thinking of all the money I could have saved not buying old nu-metal albums for a penny and Â£1.28 postage makes me weep. Then I realise that Iâ€™d only waste said money the next time I passed a Fopp or a local establishment that sells alcohol. Recent purchases that kind of break the rules set out in the first two parts as Iâ€™m vaguely aware of who Cougars are, but had never heard a note of Tanner or Snotâ€™s music â€“ but all purchases were actively sort out rather than random impulse *add to baskets*.
Band â€“ Tanner
Album â€“ Ill Gotten Gains
Release date â€“ 1995
Price â€“ 98p
Thoughts â€“ Tanner are a lost gem. Part of the Swami collective in a way. Fronted by Gar Wood (happiest left-handed guitarist ever) along with 2 other dudes, Tanner were active for a bit of time around the San Diego scene before disbanding after two albums. â€˜Ill Gotten Gainsâ€™ is their first and the only one I could justify getting for a decent-ish price. I really, really like this. Tannerâ€™s sound has a slight grunge quality to it, mixed with I suppose that Swami-cool-as-fuck attitude. Wood is a fan of making his axe howl and I can hear a lot of Hot Snakes and especially The Night Marchers in this (both Woodâ€™s former and current bands respectively).
Vocally, itâ€™s fairly scrappy â€“ Woodâ€™s voice doesnâ€™t have the coarse grating scratch of Froberg or the snarl of Reis; instead he channels this slightly high-pitched yelp in some places, whereas the rest of the time it see-saws from a low-fi drawl to a snappy bark. His voice suits the music; itâ€™s quite tense, post-punk that rattles and rolls with gritty confidence under some odd time changes. The bass is also fairly prominent, leading a lot of the songs with this sinister grinding hum.
Standout tracks? â€˜Computers That Breatheâ€™ is a compact mix of taunt punk rock energy and angry-Therapy? style hard rock. â€˜Purma Pakâ€™ is a short-sharp shock of three chords and the truth, whilst â€˜Sienerâ€™ mixes scrappy punk charm with brass, in a similar style to Rocket From The Crypt.
â€˜Spastic Artâ€™ sees Tanner aping Fugazi almost perfectly. The guitar has just the right tone â€“ that sense of total and utter rejection and low-end misery. It will then sound like its being completely mangled against the side of the drum kit, whilst Woodâ€™s Ian MacKaye impression is spot on.
Verdict â€“ Underrated; Tanner fit the mould of being the sort of band who should have been huge in the underground, but were perhaps overlooked; considering their alumni features Gar Wood and Chris Prescott (Pinback, No Knife, shitloads of other bands) itâ€™s strange, but there you go. I can also see were Fickle Public got their sound â€“ The Scottish four piece must have some Tanner records on them, because vocalist Alan Ferguson does a damn good Gar Wood impression at times. Perhaps more of an influence than we thought. If you can get hold of â€˜Ill Gotten Gainsâ€™ and are a fan of Fugazi, Hot Snakes, the aforementioned Fickle Public then this could be an interesting addition to your collection. Drummer Chris Prescott has actually made a load of Tanner mp3s available for free download as well! Top bloke.
Band â€“ Cougars
Album â€“ Nice, Nice
Release date â€“ 2003
Price â€“ Â£1.75
Thoughts â€“ From listening to Cougars, Iâ€™ve come to conclusion that they donâ€™t play music â€“ they destroy it. Back when they were an 8 piece (the band has now sadly stripped their keyboardist, trumpet and sax player from their line up) the pre-requisite for a Cougars song was â€œturn everything up the 11, and then make it louder, you fucks.â€ On â€˜Nice, Niceâ€™ this is met with gusto and then some. One thing I noticed, is how much the guitars shriek â€“ they seem to be tuned to that â€˜permanently putting your teeth on edgeâ€™ soundwave.
When listening to Cougars, you will wonder what the hell that thing singing is. Note, I think it is actually human. Vocalist Matthew Irie has one of the strangest voices ever. He sounds like his life has been spent gargling broken glass washed down with the strongest whisky imaginable. Itâ€™s a sharp, guttural grate and he is content to howl his lungs out like heâ€™s vomiting up sandpaper. Irie makes as much noise as any other instrument â€“ heâ€™s not subdued â€“ his feedback-soaked voice box punches through the dense instrumental wall of the Cougars sound like a Superman haymaker. What â€˜Nice, Niceâ€™ has that I love is the impenetrable layers and layers of different noises that keep it moving. The keys on â€˜Mustard is Pissedâ€™ are a squelching tidal wave of doom, whilst heavy trash-rock nature of â€˜Slow Pants Changerâ€™ is a San Diego-style yowl of pumped up adrenaline. â€˜Flatbrushâ€™ is this intense barrage of noise that features a pleasing, almost jazz mid section, before the chaos manifests itself once more in all its shrieking glory. The keys vibrate and hum in the background, like the motion tracker on a submarine destroyer, whilst Irie completely loses his shit. â€˜A Friend To Dogsâ€™ sounds like And So I Watch You From Afar jamming with a couple of dudes from Rocket From The Crypt whilst drunk.
Relentlessly badass; Cougars take no prisoners with their crowded cluster of explosive rock â€˜n roll debauchery.
Verdict â€“ â€˜Nice, Niceâ€™ is Cougars bludgeoning, stamping and snapping the bones of rock music, leaving it in tatters.
Band â€“ Snot
Album â€“ Get Some
Release date â€“ 1997
Price â€“ Â£1.95
Thoughts â€“ I only investigated Snot after reading about their former guitarist Mike Smith being in Limp Bizkit for a bit during Wes Borlandâ€™s quitting days. I then read about Snotâ€™s history and it completely bummed me out. In 1998, Lynn Strait their singer was killed in a car accident as was his dog, Dobbs who graces the very cover of â€˜Get Some.â€™ Before Straitâ€™s death, Snot had recorded 10 or so tracks for their second album and asked a number of guest musicians from the nu-metal and hard rock alumni to sing on it and dedicated it to the memory of their deceased vocalist. The album was called â€˜Strait Up.â€™
Ok, wiping away tears â€“ you didnâ€™t come here for a wikipedia article, letâ€™s focus.
â€˜Get Someâ€™ starts with someone asking (possibly) Strait about the record and how he feels. He responds with â€œFUCK THE RECORD AND FUCK THE PEOPLE!â€ You know how this is going to go. Slotting straight into the nu-metal template, â€˜Get Someâ€™ is all massive bass-heavy overdrives, tinny drum pounding, shit loads of cymbal crashes and hip-hop guitar segments. Strait meanwhile, howls, hollers and generally goes completely apeshit and seems to be having the time of his (short) life. If heâ€™s not spitting rapid-fire soundbites like the Beastie Boys crossed with Rollins, he puts on a ridiculous Chris Cornell style grunge-voice and at times sounds like the cast of Deliverance singing Limp Bizkit songs. This isnâ€™t disrespecting the dead â€“ Straitâ€™s vocals are what drives â€˜Get Some.â€™ As stated previously, it sounds like out of everyone, he was having the most fun during the recording sessions â€“ obviously given free reign to try different styles and totally nailing it on every track. Standout tracks? â€˜Joyrideâ€™; due to Straitâ€™s cowboy drawl, the tight metallic-punk drive and my thoughts about whether itâ€™s a bit â€˜dude not funnyâ€™ due to the sample at the end. â€˜Deadfallâ€™ is a tribute to the film of the same name and is too fucking funny for words. Basically made up of Nicolas Cageâ€™s ridiculous ramblings where he played an insane mental patient disguised as an insane wig-wearing, fake-tanned, drug taking version of Nicolas Cage. This is all set to some tight hardcore punk thrash, with Strait spitting the words with increasingly agitated speed and determination. He even throws in several Nic Cage impressions for good measure. â€˜Mr Brettâ€™ is a snapping, punk rock wrecking train of â€˜fuck you!â€™ directed at Bad Religion main man, Brett Gurewitz about how heâ€™s not really punk but corporate punk. Hey, a guyâ€™s gotta eat!
Verdict â€“ Stonking great. Sure, itâ€™s juvenile and a bit stupid, but â€˜Get Someâ€™ by Snot is the sound of a band having far too much fun. Strongly recommended if you like stupid, crass punk rock meets nu-metal chaos.