Jan 6, 2009

the REBEL "Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable" LP

How old does one have to be before they can be considered a curmudgeon? Most every definition that I looked up mentions something about being grumpy or surly or crusty and usually mention it being an old man. But how old? That's the question that needs to be answered when listening to the tunes that Ben Wallers writes. It just didn't start since he starting making tunes under the Rebel moniker either because he's been at least grumpy and surly since at least '95 when the band he fronted at the time, the Country Teasers (who are pretty much his backup band on this record anyway), released their first single on Crypt. He was about 24 years old at the time. That puts him around the age of 37 now. Dunno man, a curmudgeon always seems to describe ornery, crotchety old coot in their 60's or older doesn't it? Well, except for the Fall's Mark E. Smith that is, because he's only in his 50's but the word could be used to describe him for 30 some years now.
The sounds Wallers has been a part of making have been compared to those of old man Smith's a lot over the past decade. Cantankerous. Lumbering. Alienating. Take your pick of the many colorful adjectives to describe and any of them will fit. Two string guitar drones, jungle beat glazed in cough syrup, flanged out and space age noises, 80's Europop getting run over by a calliope equipped steamroller all being lead by free verse vocals sometimes resembling a younger but still croaky Burroughs (William S. not Edgar Rice), Metal Box Lydon if his career never went any farther than singing along to a jukebox in a pub frequented the most unconvincing of drag queens and old miners and that always congested kid that rides the bus who says stuff that bogues out/pisses off the cheerleaders and the jocks. Syd Barrett and Waylon Jennings pool their drugs together and go on a lost weekend songwriting binge perhaps? Then things get really, really weird.

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