I never thought I’d ever say this, but I miss the ‘90s. I miss the musical sensibility that came along with those times and what musicians did to bend and shape sound to make it their own. In fact, credit should be given to those in the grunge movement for opening the door to friends starting indie labels, blowing the concept of DIY through the roof. When the floodgates opened, there were as many bands as labels to house them. And this was during a time when a fair amount of musicians were honestly attempting to create their own methods and genres. Strange little scenes developed around this homemade music, filtering out into the world, blinking in and out of the radar.
These days it seems like the sameoldsameoldsameold. Retro is not just in the underground—it is everywhere. Innovative concepts are indefinitely on the back burner for popular artists as they stew in their musical bathwater. It’s gross concept for gross sounds, and the predicament that pushes me to purchase records by bands that were the originators in the first place. Call it the new generation gap. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of bands out there are zeroed in on the greater aspects of music. But the inevitable downside is that it’s easy to become fixated on the more obvious influences and lazy in looking for deeper ones. Count how many artists have covered Beatles songs, divide by 1,000 and you’ll know how old I am.
A handful of bands from the last decade did put a new spin on older genres in creating their own private revolutions. Pencil in your homework the forerunners of the current garage explosion: Jeff Evans’s and Don Howland’s Gibson Bros (there are three Gibson Bros bands, mind you), the Gories, Pussy Galore and, still buried in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Country Teasers. Refusing to join the usual game, The Country Teasers have released some seriously fried-out recordings without benefit of hype or propaganda.
Is it really country music? Well, it does kick shit. The CTs claim that their work is “not primitivism: it is country music.” Add elements of the bands mentioned above, the Fall, Eugene Chadbourne, Bob Log III, Butthole Surfers, Johnny Cash, electric kool-aid, some gas fumes, your inbred cousin. It’s a dizzy combination but it works, and only on their terms.
I did some research on the band’s history and came up with confusing rants and misleading script in some sort of CT code. The only sense made was that The CTs have jumped labels from Crypt to Fat Possum and have now meandered to In The Red Records. Does that help? I love bands like this, who don’t stoop to preconceived notions about what’s supposed to be done to sell records. Instead, it’s about taking the identity out of a band to let the music create the identity itself; being honest without having to sell yourself visually to fit into a particular genre.
The latest Country Teasers release, Science Hat Artistic Cube Moral Nosebleed Empire, is an intense trip through their back catalog, songs dating from 1991–96. It consists of brilliant, mostly four-track trashings, from all-out stomping hoedown to hyper-Casio drum beats straight outta resale shops. Unintelligible lyrics delivered from a sleepy midway barker, the over-distorted music pounds into a dusty fervor. Unconventional, disturbing, intense—it’s the perfect recipe for an honest and much needed reconstruction of music.
How will this all translate to a live performance? You’re asking the wrong person. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the live performance is just another extension of a band’s capacity to astound. Undoubtedly, it’ll be better than a simple cakewalk through a mess of songs that sound identical right off your home stereo. I don’t know what to tell you. Expect the unexpected, walk the different walk. The Country Teasers have something up their sleeves for you and please, accept it as a polite gesture.