A glance at the résumés of Hash Redactor's members might seed certain expectations. But with their debut full-length, Drecksound, the bandfronted by guitarist Alec McIntyre of Ex-Cult, featuring NOTS rhythm warriors Meredith Lones on bass and Charlotte Watson on drums, and rounded off by George Williford (stringed instrumentalist of various Memphis acts) on second guitarbanishes any residual side-project status.
Though Drecksound at times evokes certain mini-masterpieces of recent history, like The Country Teasers' Destroy All Human Life, or labelmates Spray Paint's Feel the Clamps, it ventures into musical territory tethered neither to its own lineage, nor to that of the current era...a clattering, distorted oasis in the sleek digital desert of the late twenty-teens.
Yet perhaps both because and in spite of the isolation that can typify rock music-making at the end of this malfunctioning decade, these twelve songs deliver a timely and cathartic social criticism: one that champions a comic nihilism, acknowledging the abyss while laughing in its face. As McIntyre wryly sneers in the opening lines of Open Invite to the Cave Party, 'I won't settle for anything less than a four-star refugee camp...' McIntyre's writing chortles in puckish amusement at humanity's paradoxical impulse toward self-destruction. A merry prankster, but one more in the mold of a black-clad Terry Gilliam than a Ken Kesey acid casualty. This is on no fuller display than in A-side epic In The Tank, written through the eyes of a vindictive custodian who boils alive the wealthy patrons at the isolation tank facility where he works. HR is out for some weird revenge, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
McIntyre and Williford's guitar interplay draws from a rundown of usual and unusual suspects in the tight corner of avant-punk guitar work, conjuring some free-association that includes: Marquee Moon, an imaginary-electric John Fahey, the playing on Ornette Coleman's mid-70s Body Meta and Dancing In Your Head, prime-era Flesheaters, plus the first two Meat Puppets albums. Without anything resembling traditional leads, guitars snake in and out and around Lones's bass lines, which alternate between slinky, ohrwurm hooks and steel-cable raw power. All of this is locked together by Watson's visceral swing. It doesn't feel controversial to claim that the duo of Watson and Lones constitutes one of the best rhythm sections to be heard anywhere in contemporary punk music. Taken as a whole, the songs possess the character of drunken koans—belabored jokes that, peeling away layers of churning riff and gnarled hook, possess some kind of ultimate truth, albeit a cheeky one.
After playing out heavy in 2018 with a refined live show, a four-song demo, and several Gonerfest appearances under their belt, Drecksound was cut entirely at home on a borrowed 8-track cassette machine. Matt Qualls of Memphis' Young Avenue Sound mixed the resulting deranged mess into its final form which Goner Records and Upset The Rhythm have teamed up to release.
Hash Redactor will be touring the States in Summer 2019 with an eye towards Europe later in the year.