The other day I read the best description of mainstream rap I’ve heard in a while, from The
Washington Post’s J. Freedom du Lac: “It’s become a genre of ringtones.” It’s not just hip hop that’s descended down this road, it’s most popular music. Unable to compete with a perceived lack of sales due to downloads, the Industry keeps packaging the same material in different forms. Personally, I don’t think it’s all illegal downloads: Movie sales and DVD rentals are down, tickets to live events are down, everything is down because it’s all spread much thinner. There’s so much more to do these days, and the economy certainly has been better. And if you’re going to foment paranoia in the populace by creating a war on terror, you shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t wanna leave their houses anymore.
But one thing that Parts & Labor will never be accused of is making ringtone music. I’ve mentioned Parts & Labor here before, when they released their EP. Now they’ve got a proper record of their unique blend of Brooklyn power-trio noisepunk. I say unique because it isn’t solely deconstructive clatter—it’s got hooks, too. And understandable vocals (sometimes sung via bullhorn). And plenty of bleeps, bursts, bashes and blips. And the guitar work. I have to mention that. The screaming solos are blazing fire among the wreckage of the fastest, hardest drumming this side of a tommy gun. Jagjaguwar/Brah should be commended for taking a risk and signing a band that’s pretty different from the stuff they usually put out (Black Mountain, Alex Delivery, Minus Story) — not that there’s anything wrong that those bands, it’s just that Parts & Labor is so radically different from what I usually get in my mailbox that I actually found it refreshing.
In a completely jarring kind of way.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
For fans of: Minutemen (they cover “King Of The Hill” on the album); Hüsker Dü, old Black Flag, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel, etc.
From earlier albums:
A Great Divide