This Moment In Black History, It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back

This Moment In Black History, It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back

This Moment In Black History play the same hybrid of garage rock and hardcore punk that has served the Wrangler Brutes and Houston’s own Fatal Flying Guilloteens, but they have some practicing to do before they’re up to the standards of either of those bands. Listeners familiar with the Guilloteens’ career and reputation may be surprised by that statement, but the foundation of both Guilloteens LPs, even across a lineup switch, is the hard-hitting grooves of the rhythm section. TMIBH drummer Lamont Thomas pounds courageously but fails to support such a groove, and though bassist Lawrence Caswell does a good job for his part, he can’t carry things by himself. Guitarist Buddy Akita fares a bit better; his ability to convey anger and discord without resort to the clich├ęs of punk guitar is TMIBH’s biggest strength. Strangely, though the Wrangler Brutes are probably better musicians than either the Guilloteens or TMIBH, their knockout punch is vocalist Sam McPheeters, whose throaty howl never obstructs the flow of his witty and absurdly disturbing lyrics. Which brings me to the biggest problem with It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back.

The album is dedicated to Richard Pryor. The tray card reprints an impressionistic sermon-poem by a young Black poet named R. A. Washington. The title is a reference to one of Public Enemy’s best records. The band itself, This Moment In Black History, was recently mentioned in a New York Times article on Black hipsters, oh-so-cleverly nicknamed “bipsters.” Clearly, this is a band with, to put it delicately, something to discuss. So why can’t I understand anything singer Chris Kulcsar is saying? Why doesn’t the band reprint their lyrics to help me out? Why does a band in which the two major compositional roles (voice and guitar) are filled by white men cultivate the impression that they are speaking in some way for Black people, when they apparently don’t consider that speech important enough to be made intelligible? Mind you, there’s no reason that a white-fronted band couldn’t do what TMIBH appear to be trying to do, but it makes their failure to actually get their message across all the more important.

On the opening track of Nation, “World B. Free,” a sampled voice delivers a lecture on the success of the American people, praising the efforts of “all races and nationalities — Italians, English, Mexicans, Germans, Poles, Chinese, Indians, Norwegians, Frenchman, Japanese, Russians, Spaniards, and many, many more.” Then the voice asks, “But what of the Negro’s role?” The track concludes, “Let us turn back the pages of history, and start at the very beginning.” Whether the second track, “Larry Pulled a Knife on Jesus,” constitutes this beginning is impossible to say, for these are the last words the listener will understand for many minutes. Supposedly the band claims to be apolitical, but given the context that they themselves have created for their music, that seems disingenuous. Clearly TMIBH have something to say, and more power to them; whatever issues they are trying to air out deserve to be addressed. Some people might say that rock music is not the appropriate venue for them. I disagree. But I do think that those issues should be treated with more consideration than is on display here.

(Cold Sweat Records -- http://www.coldsweat.org/; This Moment In Black History -- http://www.myspace.com/thismomentinblackhistory)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Saturday, March 24th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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