Friday, August 8, 2014
Rations "Martyrs and Prisoners" EP on 86'D Records
I was listening to Read Music/Speak Spanish the other day and it never fails to get me. Just when I think it must be dated or their polished emo punk sound can't still effect me the way it did, that album proves me wrong. The lyric sheet folded up in a tiny manilla envelope in between legal-ease paragraphs about a fictional housing development are an indictment of the '90s, predicting the mortgage collapse and the middle east. I'm exagerrating but I still think it's one of my generations greatest protest records, at a time when there aren't many. Also when I think Connor may have gone to places I'm not willing to follow....I hear this record and I'm back on board. What are you selling, I'm buying. I think this single from Rations on 86'd records is really scratching that itch. They're dealing with a lot of similar issues music and lyrically and I'm impressed anyone can pull this sort of thing off these days with intelligence. I talked about these guys a while back with their "How Much Land Does One Man Need?" single. I think it says a lot when I basically come to the same conclusions about these guys without even trying. They have a clear vision and know exactly what they want to do.
"Leaves of Grass" opens on far off am radio guitars, the vocals peeking through the thin fabric and then they blow it right open with high ringing chords in that Desaparecidos sound and energy with was the end of that hardcore emo genre for me. The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil, it all came to a climax in Desaparecidos and I hear a lot of that scrappy loose playing in these guys. The politics are even there but nailing these shining chords and power riffs are almost the harder thing. Those ringing electric harmonics are the best sound over bashing cymbals and a jittery rhythm crunch. They even drop out to nothing but a thin sounding guitar over stretched wires. The whole record is tied together by weird tones and radio static feedback that runs into "Occasion for War". A tom rhythm drives this massive produced sound that says something even bigger is directly behind this. Complex melodies and bashing conscious punk sounds without ever overdoing it. This would be enough to drag you through one of those days. Even at this slower tempo and synth sounding electric the rolling military snare and big strums are bulldozers. When everyone is slowly jangling away in that huge room sound the drums are in the middle of this arena gluing the pieces together. Looping feedback into" My Magnificent Sea" which reminded me of another band I've almost forgotten, Sunny Day Real Estate. Rations have those crunchy drone hits at half speed and then sprint between verses and you really miss why it's only about 30 seconds long. They refuse to wear out their welcome and they've stuck to the things that made this sound great to begin with and continue to do so.
B-Side's "(No More) Warheads" has severly damaged guitar and vocals in the muddiest broken rehearsal space sound, recorded on a boom box next to the amp. It's a great beginning and they had me going, for a minute I thought it might not rise out of this. The vocals are again where this gets interesting, they've got that screamy invested vocal but coming from the four members they manage a real harmony in the vocal chord shredding. They don't repeat chorus or verses and make sure to put as much detail into the impressive vocals. "The Profiteers" counts down to tom and a lower end electric. That tin can AM radio vocal comes out of the back of the room railing against capitalism and it's never a bad idea to take a look at who's being exploited in anything. There's a reason we can be so wasteful and fat. We're taking away a quality of life from the rest of the people in the world. "Relived/Replayed" is in a fast tempo which is standard for these guys but they manage to keep that speed interesting all the time, doubling things up in a cannon shot fire then back to that 4/4 after the sideways shots. Here they even get into why they personally might be so messed up, you can't just blame all of society. I would absolutely want to see these guys sum up their last 25 years like this - all at once and in haiku form, like gold plated, jewel encrusted rat traps.
Get this on white vinyl, with insert and download card from 86'd Records. They also generously offer this for free at the Free Music Archives under the Creative Commons license. We all want the physical object but they're also making a point of course, the art comes first. I'm also getting nervous that they are making me reexamine vinyl all together. Is it really conscionable to be putting music on discs of plastic when the earth is getting warmer and some people have nothing? I could recycle all year and I don't think it would put a dent in the energy consumed in making a record and putting it on a truck and driving it to my door. Oh man am I fucked. Thanks Rations.