The Cruel & Unusual

The Cruel & Unusual (Mortville)

Record Reviews

The Cruel & Unusual

(Mortville)

Between the end of innocence and acceptance of the profane lies a seething bed of gut-rage that informs all provocative gestures. The Cruel & Unusual harness this anger and make use of better-than-average chops and production to avoid tripping all over their punk-issue depravity. The local trio's efforts result in one of the most cohesive and prolific efforts to come out of Austin's underground rock hovel in quite some time. Although the Cruel & Unusual tend to focus on themes of irreverent alienation à la MDC and the Rhythm Pigs, guitarist Eric Helms definitely knows his way around a hook. How else could they turn a song about a bloody necrophilia episode ("Smell") into something almost catchy enough to be played to shit on modern rock radio? The hyperactive stein-swinger "Guns" also sticks to the wall with this super-nihilistic, follow-the-exploding-ball chorus: "Guns don't kill people cuz people kill people and most of the people are dumb. Let people be people, so people kill people, until all the people are gunned." Cover versions of Little Richard's "Rip it Up" and Bob Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" prove to be odd yet defiantly convincing in their punked-out recitation of rock history. This cathartic outing of personal demons and societal horseshit will surely resonate with any number of low-rent fringe dwellers whose stock options haven't come in yet.

***.5

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