I Can See Your Mom From Here
Thrill Jockey, 1995

It is around this time every year that those who knew him raise a glass (or two or six) to Gaunt singer and guitarist Jerry Wick. On January 10, 2001, Wick was fatally struck by a car while riding his bicycle home from legendary Columbus watering hole Larry’s. He was 33.

While I didn’t get to know Jerry personally until moving back to Columbus just a few years before his death, I had spent plenty of time with Gaunt’s records while living elsewhere. My introduction to the band came with I Can See Your Mom From Here, their sophomore release for Thrill Jockey from 1995. And though aside from the band’s lackluster swansong, Bricks and Blackouts, their records never dipped in quality, it is to this album that I return most often.

The album was reportedly comprised of leftovers from the sessions with Steve Albini that had produced the band’s debut, Sob Story, the year before, but for my money I Can See Your Mom eclipses its predecessor. Maybe it’s because in my mind’s eye I can still picture Jerry bounding around the stages of The Cooler or CBGB’s or Little Brother’s playing “I Don’t Care” and “Scandals,” but the cuts on I Can See stick out as near-perfect amalgamations of enmity, speed, and pop hooks. Wick was a wily character both onstage and off, but in the framework of a two-minute song, he managed to distill the gestalt of his intelligence with punk’s three-chord charms. Of course, it helped that he had the perfect accomplices in the form of guitarist Jovan Karcic and the solid rhythmic foundation of Eric Barth and Jeff Regensburger. Otherwise, he might have just as well have been whistling dixie, as they say.

But listening to I Can See once more, the songs remain undiminished. Having grown up a middle-class kid in an upper middle-class burb, I still get sparks of righteous anger when Wick shouts, “Fuck the rich kid!” on “Rich Kid.” “Weekend” and “Hangover” are songs to which just about anybody can relate, while “Ohio” and its chorus of “so sick of my city” is a sentiment that anyone who grew up in the Buckeye State has felt at some time. But the song that still sticks out is “Turn to Ash.” Here Jerry conveyed a certain amount to anxiety within a flurry of barre-chord riffs, an uncommon feat when one considers the wide swathe under the banner of “punk.” Gaunt was a band for the ages, even if Jerry was taken from us too soon, and I Can See showed them to be in the class of the idols that Jerry long poured over.
Stephen Slaybaugh