Friday, August 10, 2018

Band Review: Culture Abuse

This is my second band with a fuzzy sound this week. I would call it a coincidence, but both bands were recommendations, and the guys who recommended them have played together, so that probably makes it less surprising.

In this case, Culture Abuse was recommended by Gerard Way, but I remember seeing praise for their 2016 album Peach from many people (a sad reminder of how long some bands languish on the Recommended list).

Having listened, I totally get the praise for Peach. It starts in with an infectious energy on "Chinatown" (the band is based in San Francisco), moves right in to "Jealousy" - probably my favorite track - and stays strong all the way through a solid conclusion of "Yuckies" and "Heavy Love". Therefore it is not just that the individual songs are good, but also that the arrangement and the connections build well, something I always appreciate.

As good as Peach is, waiting to review Culture Abuse means that I can also include Bay Dream, which I believe is thematically stronger. Maybe it is just more personal.

The fuzz of the sound does make me think of some emo, but what it reminds me of most is punk. They would not be defined as punk based on tempo or reliance on a few simple chords. (At least I don't think so; my ear isn't really good enough to tell.) However, I feel a combination of sad subject matter becoming musically celebratory. Without being able to tell you that a single song sounds like the Ramones' "Beat On The Brat", that is what I think of: this sucks but we are all right. The need for that music never goes away.

I especially want to recommend "Calm E","Peace On Earth", and "Dave's Not Here (I Got the Stuff Man)", even though I think that last one is a drug reference.

I can really imagine fans of Weezer enjoying Culture Abuse, but also - and I'm probably only thinking it because of "Bluebird On My Shoulder" but that doesn't mean it's wrong - fans of They Might Be Giants.

Or, you know, fans of good music, but that's sort of unhelpfully broad.

Culture Abuse has tour dates starting September 7th. Check them out.

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