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US Weekly - US Weekly

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:3 Release Date:2017-04-21

I’m not big on saying that something is awesome just because it’s hard to describe or because it defies description. Hell, Styrofoam is pretty hard to describe and it’s hardly awesome. Furthermore, anger alone is not enough to make me want to listen. If that were the case, I’d just carry around a recording device and start saving the rants of homeless people or samplings from Fox News “pundits.” Lastly, while I acknowledge the term “art” is as open-ended as any word in the English language, it must also be conversely admitted that the term has little, if any value.

Which leads me to US Weekly, a quartet out of the fertile, urban, hipster musical expanse of Austin, Texas. Although, if you follow the rebellious musical press folk hailing the band as being like nothing you’ve heard before, they’re practically begging you not to discount them as yet another Austin band. Or categorize them at all, for that matter. Hell, the Matador label head had this to say about them in his promo write-up, “Let's be very clear about this - the quartet in question isn't merely interesting, they're nothing short of fascinating, a collision of parts-shouldn't-fit influences with the end result being more akin to a spectacular montage than a car wreck."  Yeah, I guess, although that’s the same strategy used in click bait and by carnival barkers. So then, what about this two-headed cow?

While I will readily admit to fascination, let’s remember that such things can be short-lived, and moreover, a montage can be merely a weak substitute for artistic vision. In short, making noise for the sake of making noise, and then calling it “music” only reminds me of Yoko Ono. She seems like a nice enough person and all, but I fucking hate her music, or more accurately, I hate when she sings.

How to describe this? Punk jazz? That’s what I first thought of, and I’m going with my gut. With odd time signatures to make Hemispheres-era Rush stand up and take notice, and hoarse, angry screaming vocals from the guy who could well-be John Lydon’s illegitimate son with Rod Stewart’s daughter, the band checks the boxes for both. Add in the frequency of which the phrase “free form” is used by the band and in write-ups, and you get the whole bebop burrito. Some of it works, too.

“Cowboy” has a very cool spy movie riff happening and opener “No Attitude” has enough old-school punk influence to please. Unfortunately, for my petty bourgeois taste, too much of the rest is not engaging beyond the initial raised eyebrow.

Final verdict? M’eh. To be fair, this isn’t my cup of tea by a long shot. I like angry and I like punk, but I have a low threshold for non-melodic, and this is certainly that, among other things.

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