Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
NAUTICAL ALMANAC : “ROOTING FOR THE MICROBES” CD.....Give Ben at Load Records credit. Despite my having savaged a couple of his bands on this very site (while effusing mightily about some others), he keeps sending me young noisemaking lambs to bring to slaughter. He pointedly said in an e-mail, “I’m going to be sending you some new CDs – some of it barely even music”. Load are at the forefront of this sort of thing: heavy, shape-shifting noise rock, weirdo improvisational searching, bleeping & chirping laptop punk, and a dash of bombastic ST. VITUS-style metal thrown in for shits & giggles. Before NAUTICAL ALMANAC, it was the HAIR POLICE that struck me as Load’s most pointless act, but I think even the HP are blitzkrieging rock and roll stormtroopers compared to the inane Nautical Almanac. (and keep in mind, this is a record label I admire, what with Lightning Bolt, Viki, Noxagt and Sightings all on the roster). “Barely even music”? Way too kind. I’ve said my piece before about the new hippy dip trip, but these guys are the living embodiment of what happens when kids weaned on punk and indie music get bored and look backward to make mistakes even worse than their parents. Go to their website and check out their deliberately spelling-challenged manifestos, you’ll see what I’m talking about. They’re not quite on the level of a Genesis P-Orridge verbal blubbering, but they’re trying so hard. It’s sooooo cute! And instead of long stoned guitar jams, Nautical Almanac create the sort of random plugged-in oscillator sounds that anyone drunkenly tripping over the same set of electronics would make as their legs got violently tangled in the wiring & stands. No sir, it’s not even close to music. You simply cannot convince me that there are people who will sit and listen to this at home without full knowledge that they’re being ironic in doing so. Even with a 5-foot bong propped in the middle of the room. Even with a pile of hallucinogenics on the coffee table. Even if they were already hopped up on goofballs. It ain’t happening, folks. What gets me is that in pitching a fake fit of apoplexy about the band, I’m playing right into their brazen modern hippie challenge. These guys want to throw down the gauntlet and start the revolution, the one after which Nautical Almanac “will take these reclaimed bones and build upon our new communities and traditions”. OK, you’re on. Rockers vs. heads, let’s bring the war home!