First encounters with Davila 666, via their In The Red LP, gave me the dollar-store blues. The Puerto Rican quartet, slicked- and revved-up, sound eager but come off as generic. I pictured them all in Ramones t-shirts, looking like Guitar Wolf, playing Korean made Fenders, snacking on Slim Jims. Of course, it was reactionary. I’m of the expectancy that anything “Latin” and rock-oriented will give off vibes like Los Llamarada or XYX. Maybe I’m expecting too much when a band plays it straight.
What a difference a 7-inch makes. Now all of the sudden they could vamp for any number of Nuggets exotica and even better. “Primero Muerta” is built with dusty production, and here the 666 crew travel though desert and swamp, abandoned warehouse and empty house party. Funny that they start the A-side of their “biggest” release with the after-hours jam of a Zombies nightcap. The pure bubblegum gem, though, is “Sabes Que Quiero,” which could be mistaken for a Paul Revere and the Raiders outtake. Maybe hard and heavy with marshmallow. This one keeps going on repeat. Beyond Nuggets, beyond deep cuts from all of the Mersey Beat sounds, beyond their location, but that shouldn’t matter when a band has such a tight grip on both the standard punk equivalence and the throwback pop that should be adopted by more bands of this ilk.
Eric LaGrange, formerly (or still) of Eric and the Happy Thoughts and Romance Novels, has no reservations when remembering the ’50s. “Bring Your Love,” the initial launch of his new outfit, the Cave Weddings, is the night under the sea in Back to the Future, or the day that the Exploding Hearts made it fashionable to ape riffs from the Crickets and Bill Haley. Revisionist squabbling is worthless as this ditty is over before the sweetheart has had her goodnight kiss, and you’d be craggy and jaded to deplore the joy developed in the interim. I’m usually not one for this type of (extremely) old school, Happy Days–esque revival. But there’s something in the tempo and attitude that screams (or sings patiently) against my deep desire to deride this as sappy rock & roll posturing. Cave Weddings are from Troy, New York, so I’m inclined to think that location has nothing to do with the heartland joy that comes with “Let’s Drive.” Kudos to Hozac for seeing past the horn-rimmed glasses and malt shop geek-chic Cave Weddings are trying to evoke.
As far as I’m concerned, catharsis does not always equate to pleasure. Just because Francis Harold and the Holograms have quickly become one of the more emotionally charged bands on the planet, spewing forth dark, laborious chunks of feedback and grisly grunt-riffs, does not make their music an enjoyable listening experience. Try choking down the recent LP and you’re unlikely to make it to the final 10-minute barrage. But there are tunes in there, even discernible melodies buried under their hate-on-hate horror-show sludge. It’s similar to the brown-acid scribble-psych that was raised by the earliest Butthole Surfers raindance, only instead of synapses whipped by tentacles and abject feelers, Harold and his Holograms use blunt force, sledgehammers, nail-guns and goofus evil. This will clear a cocktail party when the revelers become too much.
But if you need a cathartic blast before heading out the door, here are two songs that will tell the whole story. It’s on the short format that Francis Harold best delivers the message. Even before slipping this ghoulie on, the cover starts talking, as a naked and bloody victim is hung upside-down from a tree, while, what must be the Holograms pose in soiled bed sheets and faux-executioner garb. Joke? I wouldn’t get close enough to find out. “Mirror of Fear” barks inside an antagonistic hardcore punk slaughterhouse, egging one on with an astutely catchy bassline before eventually going to forage for entrails. “Retreat” splits the time between the squeals, creaks, moans and grunts that may have emitted from the Texas Chainsaw house and a crack-infected “Land of 1,000 Dance.” Like all pigfuckers, it can catch mold quickly unless you have something else on the brain. About the only thing new they bring to the table is the irregular soloing that lies out of focus atop the cesspool of aggression. That said, anything this putrid is always welcome, but you have to put it into perspective. Much better than Pissed Jeans, slightly lesser than Unholy Two and looking miles away at Pussy Galore, who sit on the very precipice of the quality spectrum.
Kevin J. Elliott