Monday, November 16
LOTD Invents a New Genre!
Artist: The Chinese Stars
Album: Heaven on Speed Dial
Comments: Ever since the untimely breakup of Death From Above 1979, indie rock has suffered from a lack of a hyper-specific genre of music, a style I am going to call Fuck-Core.
What is Fuck-Core, you ask? It's a brand of overly masculine and aggressive music that is entirely about dirty, depraved sex with strangers. It is the kind of music one would play if they were to bang a stranger on the bathroom sink of a bar, high as a kite on stimulants, ala Micky Rourke in The Wrestler. It has a focus on heavy, driving rhythms, cocaine-fueled guitar riffs and a general sense of being as emotionless and primal in lovemaking as possible. You're a Woman, I'm a Machine is Fuck-Core. Most of the Blood Brother's stuff is Fuck-Core.
While the genre might sound kind of unsavory, it does have its place. Considering how wimpy and limp most indie-rock comes off (too concerned with style over substance), a healthy blast of macho confidence can be refreshing. However, this only works if the artist can walk a fine line between being actually sexy and just being some coked-out weirdo.
Sadly, The Chinese Stars Heaven on Speed Dial walks that line about as well as a one-legged circus clown on a high-wire in downtown Chicago. In roller skates.
The album is nine songs of gritty guitar driven dance music that recalls both the Blood Brothers and DFA79, but never doing as well as either. Tracks range from Liars-esque anti music (the bracing album opener "Rabbit Face") to blatant attempts at decadence (the cringe worthy "Lick it Clean"). Lead singer Eric Paul's vocals are a bit of a drag: every song is sung / screamed in a high-pitch wail that is occasionally effective but often just an irritation. The guitar work, which is the signature element of the band, is equally problematic, inspiring more cringes than sexy grinding.
The album does yield a few worthy tracks. Those with an ear for noise will like "Rabbit Face." Tracks like "No Car No Job" and "Slow Children" are legitimately groovy, showing off a rock-solid rhythm section. The slow build of "House is Burning" takes over four minutes to fully mature, and the restraint makes the track the best on the album, one of the few tracks where all the band's elements work together.
However, these few chestnuts and glimpses of quality are few and far between. Most of Heaven on Speed Dial comes off as low-class and creepy, the audio equivalent of that dude at a rave who sells Ecstasy to high school girls only to watch them from the wall of the warehouse, waiting for his moment to pounce on their chemically-enhanced hormones. No one likes that guy.
That guy isn't sexy, he's just a drugged out weirdo. This album isn't sexy or decadent: it's just kinda bad.
Key Tracks: Slow Children, House is Burning
Buy, Steal, Skip: I'd skip it.