The slacker-rock mudslide continues
Named for the enigmatic (and very tall) drummer in Wire, Pittsburgh’s Gotobeds have less in common with that band’s focused, angular minimalism than with the sloppy brilliance of Let It Be-era Replacements, the postmodern curveballs of early Pavement, or the simultaneously slack but unrelenting assault of Parquet Courts. And that’s a fine, fine thing on the group’s debut album Poor People Are Revolting (nice pun!), released this week by Gerard “Matador” Cosloy’s 12XU Records. (And all these nods to the world’s greatest art-punks, I love ’em!)
Formed by guitarist Eli Kasan and drummer Tom Payne, veterans of underground favorites Kim Phuc, the quartet released a few head-turning singles dating back to 2013, including the anthemic “New York’s Alright,” which appears again as one of the stand-outs on its debut full-length. The lyrics to that ditty can’t really be quoted here; let’s just say they recall a time when much of Manhattan was gritty, dangerous, and far from the Disneyfied tourist mecca it is today, and you’d have risked life and limb to visit C.B.G.B. to see these guys (though it certainly would have been worth it).
And so it goes throughout these 11 tracks, allegedly all recorded in one day, and with a third of them coming from first takes. Seemingly off-the-cuff, beer-soaked, sometimes profane and always wise-ass sociological observations ride atop entrancing subway-train grooves (is there a subway in Pittsburgh, or is that just more love for the Rotten Apple of yore?), caressed by waves of feedback and snaky, intertwining leads.
“Everyone in this bar is a clown,” the band sings in the chorus of “F---ing Machine.” “What does that say about this sound?” I really don’t know, but when someone follows that with a shout of “Here we go!” and the guitars erupt into glorious, chaotic cacophony, it’s a moment as great as the infamous “And then my mind split open!” in “I Heard Her Call My Name” by the granddaddy of any band mining this turf, the Velvet Underground. And it’s absolutely irresistible.
The Gotobeds, “Poor People Are Revolting” (12XU)
Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.