Brothers in arms
Taste for Evil – The Cuthroat Brothers (Hound Gawd)
You’re over all those punk-blues duos? You prefer your blues un-bent, right? And you never want to see red and white stripes again? Think again.
The Cuthroat Brothers are real-life barbers from the US Pacific Northwest city of Tacoma, an area that also spawned The Sonics. One of them (Donny Paycheck) drummed for Zeke. Studio wiz Jack Endino (Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden) produced this, their second album.
They sing songs about “blood, death, drugs, sex, black magic (and) bad relationships” and their music is raucous, rough-edged and rambunctious. What’s not to like?
More soon but first let’s talk about records labels. There are two schools of thought when it comes to labels. There are those people who hear a few things from an imprint, love it and stick religiously to what it puts out, and there are those who don’t give a toss. When it comes to high energy, back-to-basics rock and roll, this German label Hound Gawd does not miss. The Cuthroat Brothers prove it yet again. Hound Gawd's also home to people like Jim Jones, Australia’s Brat Farrar, The Candy Snatchers and the Fuzztones, so you can see the pattern right there.
What’s cooking in these grooves? Goodness. First and foremost, it’s in Jason Cuthroat’s fuzzy ‘n’ earthy guitar tones. Then it's his nagging vocal melodies that lie underneath. Donny's backbeat is pushed, er, back in the mix for the most part. The songs sound dead simple. Three chords is one too many. .
Dip in wherever you like. There’s variety to burn, too: Yake “Out of Control”. It’s a dead-set pop song. It's driven by a burring guitar that’s dirty enough to keep it off commercial airwaves and a low-key vocal that’s nailed to a beat that swings.It's not just the sound of a dentist's drill. You can even hum along.
Jump onto “Wrong”, of yuou dare. It's a bouncing blues-boogie tune. “Killing Time” is a chugging fuzz rocker that recalls the late period Ramones, just a touch. No, that’s not such a bad thing when you think about it.
These Brothers (for once, that is what they are) cite The Gun Club, the Stooges and the Misfits as influences. Fair call. They might not say it but the early Black Keys are another obvious comparator. Note the emphasis on early. Throw in the Cramps in places, arguably Australia's own mutant blues masters feedtime, and (of course) those Sonics.
It’s not so much who they sound like as who they don’t that make this record a satisfying listen. The strolling blues and crunchy dénouement of “The King Is Dead” doesn’t resemble Elvis as much as his rotting corpse, while “Black Candle” would give the early ZZ Top a close shave in the pursuit of Texan barbecued burnt ends, without falling into the mistake of making a dire album like “Eliminator”.
Endino’s production job is a beauty. There’s no over-polishing evident and the beat and hooks are highlighted in all the right places.
It’s on LP and it’s out on October 31, procurable right here.