Erik Nervous & The Beta Blockers - s/t [IMPORT] – New LP
Clearly coming from middle america, Mr. Nervous from Indiana, and the others from Kalamazoo, Michigan, sounding like they were electrocuted into action by the more robotic underground rock of ohio of the 1970s, Devo and the others, nurds that might kick your ass, plugged into the electronics but clearly playing at the end of their leashes, winding up into their cords/chords and spinning loose, biting into the live wires until their hair stands up and pogo-twirling into action, some basic rock n roll at the core if you listen through the madness, this shit never lets up and feels almost like a live show, essential listen for fans of wild rumpus synthesizer-heavy punk with lots of guitar doing a variety of things to keep it interesting but also focusing on angular licks stabbing you like repetitive hits of a cattle prod, the band likely using some of the no-wave outfits of decades past as launching pads, probably called unhinged by most reviewers, but this screen door is hinged to the house, it's just slapping in the wind and yanking on the spring, likely springing through the Buzzcocks, Minutemen, Siouxsie, even Joy Division perhaps, this is somewhat like the more high-energy synth-punk bands of the last 20 years, but this drives down a sound all their own, drives it like screws into sheet metal. -- winch (green noise)
This time Erik’s joined by The Beta Blockers, and the sound they concoct together is utterly magical. OK, when this self-titled LP comes rattling out of the gate with 90-second barnstormer ‘Violent Dreams’, you may suspect it’s just an amplified version of the old stuff, albeit with full band, but trust me: you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Gravure sees ‘em tinkering with an angular skronk-funk that tilts an ear towards yer Minutemen, yer Bogsheds, yer Andy Gills (while ensuring both feet are firmly cemented to as many dumbass hardcore punk records as possible). The thoroughly unexpected ‘Blasted Heath’ brings synths to the foreground in masterly fashion, while the mutant dub of ‘Want To Not Wanna’ feels like a dust-up in a muddy puddle with an ashen-faced Pere Ubu. And there’s still more to come.
It’ll keep you guessing, this record. It’s still recognisably the work of Erik Hart (for that is his true name), only distorted and further frayed at the edges. It’s the sort of snappily smart sidestep you wish more bands would be willing to take, while remaining within touching distance from their roots. Best of all, it places the Michigan-based wonder alongside fellow punk explorers like Uranium Club; utterly aware of punk/hardcore/post-punk/whatever’s past and its limitations, but determined to find the lesser-explored gaps that lie between and make them his own.
Make no mistake, this is a mighty record. By the time the Saints-style brass of ‘Make Up To Break Up’ brings this frantically tense album within sight of a glorious conclusion, we’re in full party mode, ready to carry Erik Nervous around on a hastily-assembled throne before dumping him in a barrel of beer. If this is what expanding your horizons can do, let’s all set sail for the edge of the world immediately. Even if we fall right off the side, it’ll be worth it
Mastered by North London Bomb Factory Mastering.
First 100 On Green Vinyl.
Joe "Roldy" Varchola - bass roldy.bandcamp.com
Jeff Mahannah - drums
Erik "Nervous" Hart - guitar, synthesizers, tenor saxophone, vocals, bass (3, 6), drums (3, 5)
Additional vocals on 9 by Matt Ferrara
Music written by Hart except
4 by Varchola
7, 11, 12 by Varchola/Hart/Mahannah
9 by Siouxsie & The Banshees
Recorded at Western Sound Studios, Vine St., & Shipshewana.
Engineered by MDWood & Erik
Mixed by Erik
Front cover & help with back cover by Jacob Gardner
Back art by Jeff Mahannah