Don’t you love it when you put on a CD and you are instantly overcome with that Beavis and Butthead urge to scream “Yes, Yes!” at the top of your voice? That’s precisely what happens when the scuzzy, fuzzed up nightmare of ‘Shirts’, the opening track from the Blacklisters’ album ‘Adult’ comes screaming from the speakers. It’s a dirty, horrible, eardrum-raping noise that the band make, a joyous, feedback-strewn train wreck of barely comprehensible riffs, custer-fuck drumming and punk-infused wailing and before you know it you’re into the Catheter-worshipping punk squall of ‘cash cow’. It’s lo-fi, barely coherent and wouldn’t you be surprised to know that this cooler-than-anything racket originated, not in some redneck swamp in America, but in deepest, darkest… Leeds?! Thought so. Anyhow, Blacklisters are the epitome of cool. They do hardcore in a way that no-one has done hardcore since Mclusky broke up without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’ and they, remarkably, fill that gaping hole in the musical landscape with serious power and a sense of broken style that heaves a brick through the windows of any number of pseudo-hip branches of the goddam Urban Outfitters.
‘The sadness of Axl Rose’ is a case in point. A scything, atonal mess that threatens to fall in upon itself at any moment, it’s like a cross between Nirvana’s ‘endless nameless’ and Hot Water music with its floor rumbling bass line and distorted-into-infinity guitar riff. Even better still is the white-hot squall of punkish hell that is ‘big ticker’, a larger than life beast that cruises on the propulsive rhythm of tribal toms whilst howling guitars trace elemental figures in the sky. It’s as if the band absorbed every ounce of Sonic Youth’s era-defining cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘I wanna be your dog’ and dragged it howling and screaming into the contemporary age, the result being ‘adult’, an album that begs to be played at insane volumes over and over again until there is only tinnitus and an ever-increasing psychosis.
It’s not all devil-conjuring sonic evil, however, as the slithering ‘weasel bastard’ demonstrates. A taut exercise in restraint, it easily evokes a sense of dread as feedback builds over a repetitive rhythm in a manner reminiscent of latter-day Swans. The short ‘I knock myself out’ is a spit-drenched spaz-out, the coruscating noise evoking images of a bloody pit of whirling fists and bruised torsos only for ‘dream boat’ to showcase a very different sense of dynamics, more akin with ‘in utero’ era Nirvana than full-throttle punk. ‘Power ballad’ is, well, misleading in terms of titles, the track proving to be one of the album’s most unhinged efforts, whilst ‘priss’ is out-out Mclusky with its discordant riff and syncopated rhythm. The album concludes with the eight minute monument to human resilience entitled ‘downbeat’. A show-stopping, mucus-framed epic that sounds like ‘and you will know us by the trail of dead’ jamming on Rollins Band and Butthole surfers tracks in an amphetamine coma, it’s the perfect end to an album that is jarringly metallic and brutally independent.
In the mid-90s bands like Urusai Yatsura and, a little later, Mclusky were spearheading the most vibrantly exciting and dangerous underground musical movement only to disappear without trace. From Mclusky we got the awesome Future of the left, but it seemed that, by and large, the danger had gone out of the underground. Blacklisters have bought it back with a vengeance, however, the unhinged, ear-drum destroying anthems of ‘adult’ easily the most exciting thing I’ve heard all year. Available on CD and (yes!!!) vinyl, this is an album you should kill, maim, lie and cheat to get a-hold of. At a time when so much of the fire and fury seems to have been drawn out of music by the endless need to gain attention quickly and concisely, Blacklisters have just torn up the rule book and pissed on it for good measure. You need a copy of this in your life, hell it should be mandatory listening in schools: This. Is. Fucking. Awesome.
Pre-order the album here.