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The Aberrant Years (Sub Pop)

Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., July 27, 2012

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feedtime

The Aberrant Years (Sub Pop)

As proved locally at Beerland in April, feedtime remains a minimalist post-punk trio obsessed with two-cylinder motors and gasoline. Three men from Sydney, Australia, going by first names only, polarized initial audiences with a repetitious beat-down of crude drumming and scraping distortion. Their efforts were single-minded: one riff, one chord, one sentiment – sludged in motor oil and growled over. Four CDs, or in this case a vinyl quartet, The Aberrant Years packages four Eighties LPs that document the peak of a band finding musical truth in erasing all the "unnecessary bullshit" and droning into salvation. It's unclear whether the stunningly simple sound of 1985's feedtime was forged by artistic primitivism or limitations in musicianship, but its monotonic songs ride feeling rather than melody, and when it's good, like "Fastbuck" springing outlaw quatrain, "I got a Pontiac, gasoline, grab the cash, split the scene," it's paralyzing. And when it's not, it stalls. By contrast, 1986's Shovel hits on all cylinders, a summit recording where passion and production align. Defining track "Rock n Roll" trademarks the threesome's bass-heavy rumble topped with warped guitar swells and resonating lyrics, while dark saxophone freakout "Curtains" is reminiscent of San Francisco post-punk contemporaries Flipper. Since feedtime's influences come shrouded in noise, covers album Cooper S two year later offers a glimpse into Rick, Al, and Tom's first loves: American punk (Ramones' "Loudmouth"), early blues ("Pure Religion"), and classic rock (four Rolling Stones songs). When filtered through the band's sonic grate, even the Beach Boys' sunny "Fun Fun Fun" sounds like a back road car chase. Underwhelming 1989 effort, Suction, mixed by Butch Vig, lacks atmospheric rawness and more swaggering badassery to accompany "Motorbike Girl." With attendant era bonuses in appended singles and EPs, these aberrations won't only make sense to rock & roll extremists.

****

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