Weird Party, Hussy
Some old, some new, and the hell with what went before — that’s what I walk away with after listening to Weird Party’s “debut” full-length, “Hussy”.
See, there’re several songs on here that have been floating around a while now in some form or another, like “Turkish Detergent,” “Cockroach Heart,” and “Pale Brunette,” with the former pair almost-released on the band’s scuttled first attempt at an LP (along with “Itinerant Romeo” and “Acne Puncture,” I believe) and the latter popping up back when the band first started making waves ’round town.
Not that this is just a retread, mind you, because the band’s grown by leaps and bounds since those first formative steps; I’ve been listening to the older versions of the songs side-by-side with the tracks on Hussy, and trust me, it’s like night and day. Nowadays, the Weird Party boys are confident and tight, while still playing loose enough to let the songs suck you in and get dirty along with ‘em. They know exactly what the fuck they’re doing, and they play like the building’s burning down around their heads.
The band’s overall sound on those reworked songs hasn’t changed a whole lot, of course, with Weird Party still running full-tilt down some darkened, grimy alleyway in a nameless, crime-ridden metropolis somewhere. “Pale Brunette” is snarling and boozy, a belligerent drunk swinging wild and hitting anything nearby without giving a shit, while “Cockroach Heart” is more controlled and locked-down, yet still angry and full of bile.
There’s a lot there that brings to mind ’90s-era noise-rock bands like Steel Pole Bathtub or The Jesus Lizard, albeit with a swagger in Shawn Adolph’s sung/howled delivery that neither of those bands can really claim. “Turkish Detergent” and “Bath House” are in that vein, too, careening along at full speed, all sinister menace and driving rhythms; no offense meant to Iggy and company, but this is the sound I always imagined in my head for The Stooges way, way back before I’d actually heard that band.
Then there’s the “new” stuff, namely “Big Brass Casket” and title track “Hussy,” both of which are somewhat of a departure for the band. The former is a barreling-along, rootsy stomp that’s far more countrified than anything I’ve heard from these guys before now — it’s still furious and ballsy, and it’s still got that lurking sense of menace, sure, but it’s roaming out across the shadowed, windswept desert in the middle of nowhere, rather than some city shithole.
“Hussy,” for its part, is by far the slowest, bluesiest song on here, with Manie Chemin’s bass rumbling sludgily in the forefront as Adolph croons; and hell, it’s even got a piano, for God’s sake. I know it sounds strange, but as I listen I keep thinking that this is what it’d sound like if The Afghan Whigs covered the Cowboy Junkies.
Listening to anything Weird Party does is like taking a walk through the darkest, murkiest, most deeply-hidden parts of your psyche — there’s more violence, menace, blood, and bitter recrimination than your average death-metal band can dish up, all scratched and scuffed-up by Kyle Gionis and Dann Miller’s jagged, buzzsaw-like guitars. Adolph acts as the carnival barker for the whole mess, guiding you down the hole and then leaving you there with a sarcastic laugh and a middle finger.
At the same time, though, there’s a subversive, sneaky sense of melody lurking in there, too, though, like what’s bubbling beneath the surface in all the best, rawest Distillers songs. On “Acne Puncture,” in particular, the song has an almost Blur-like melody line married to Stephen Bee’s propulsive drums, and holy fuck is it addictive as hell. “Cockroach Heart” is similar, with a sweet, singsong-y, near-subliminal riff buried way the hell down in the bowels of the song.
Y’know, back when the original Weird Party got shitcanned, I was pretty bummed out about it. At the time, the band seemed like it was dead and gone, and I’d figured those songs would never truly see the light of day.
Now, though, it sure feels like things happen for a reason, even to my cynical, non-interventionist deist self. If that first attempt had to get thrown aside so “Hussy” could be brought to life, well, I’m totally okay with that, because this wipes the floor with anything these guys have done before now. (Oh, and it probably wipes the floor with anything your band’s done, too, just so you know.)