Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Artist: Totally Wrecked

Artist: Totally Wrecked

The Totally Wrecked experience is like getting finger-cuffed, Chasing Amy-style, by the tailpipes of cars backing into each other. And since I ranked TW's War Cry second out of hundreds of tracks reviewed, I guess you could say I'm into that sort of thing – the blistering garage wail, not the auto[motive]-erotica. (Having said that, the ability to consistently staff and monetize such scenes for the car porn genre would be a “fucking valuable thing”).

After reviewing the EP series, Garbage Tapes, I viewed with trepidation the opportunity to go on record evaluating a TW release that averages six-minute run-times and was preceded by the proclamation, “OFFICIALLY DONE WITH PUNK MUSIC.” Contrast these song lengths with TW's inimitable “Play Dumb,” which made its point in a third of the time; and I'll admit my pop alarm did go off a time or two as I took in Heavy Petting. (Then again, it also did during Swans’ critically acclaimed The Seer, e.g. at 3:02 of “Mother of the World.”) But it begs the question, since TW recorded the whole EP live as a continuous track, would it offend them if we just chose our own adventure, editing as we please? (If so, I'll snag Potion Control's intro riff and its memorable middle section, e.g. 1:42).
It's common to learn something new about a band with each EP released, and Heavy Petting is no different. After lamenting not understanding a word out of their mouths (the heavy vocal effects noted in my Garbage Tapes review), I'm pleased to report that the lyrics of Totally Wrecked can hang with their visual marketing (more great cover art; title-appropriate too), humor (name your price on BandCamp, as long as it's over a hundred dollars), and musical output (waves of emotive noise; distinct voice; still missing a more robust low end). Specifically, the expert vocal phrasing makes hooks out of “You were the only one / On again, off again, on again, off again” and “We don't need to separate.” Even a risky pentagram reference is qualified with, “Relax, it's only magic” – which may do little to assuage the audience's concern, but at least adds nuance to the symbol's considerable cliché.

But the lyrics aren't just effective in passing. They are integral to the efficacy of Potion Control's middle section, which ranks among the very best TW has to offer. The layered vocals, subtle pausing, and melancholy melody combine to suit the weather phenomenon described: “When I pray for rain / Watch the storm, clouds, change / Gravity, pulls me down / Take these pills, put me out.” We not only hear – we understand. We see ourselves in this narrator’s need to fade away.

Maybe we're totally wrecked too.

*** The author of this review, Dale Harrison, plays the tsukeshime-daiko for the following band:

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