This may cause a little bile to creep up into some people’s mouths, but I’ve been a fan of Poughboy since day one. While their frenetic and spastic live shows, seemingly spontaneous songs and nearly unintelligible vocals, and abrasive online presence seemed to initially (and for some people still) create a sense of bewilderment coupled with disgust, they hit a nerve in this guy. As much as I’m a fan of the perfectly constructed pop song, there are days when my ears and very soul ache for something that is disjointed, caustic and acerbic to rip apart the monotony of what I’m feeling and let my mind restart from scratch (such as yesterday’s miserable gray day where listening to the Jesus Lizard‘s Goat and Liar albums back to back, followed by the Melvins‘ Houdini and Stoner Witch finally rebooted my soul). And that is where Poughboy comes in, both aurally and visually.
Upon first seeing them (and subsequently listening to their debut release, an extremely DIY EP entitled Is Your Mother Around?), I was immediately hooked, although initially it was because I thought I was witnessing a Touch & Go version of Steel Panther or Spinal Tap. This couldn’t be for real, could it? After all, three fifths of the band (vocalist Adam Craig and guitarists Vincent Manzerolle and Brandon Butzu) were fresh off the dissolution of one of Windsor’s greatest instrumental maestros (although Craig was on his natural instrument, the drums, and Butzu held down the bass), the bombastically underappreciated heavy math rock of Measured In Angles (whose album History of the Engine was one of 2006’s finest releases, local or otherwise), and drummer David Allan was a rising new star as the drummer in Explode When They Bloom (he’s since gone on to be in other great local acts like Cellos, Which Witch, and long time alt. rock band Area 51). And bassist Darryl Derbyshire sure seemed more Mark Deutom than Derek Smalls.
Is Your Mother Around? was soon followed up with a proper debut, entitled The Gift (which featured many re-recorded versions of songs off IYMA, including the fantastic “Chuck Berry” and “Cocaine and Gasoline”) and a few more shows. Still I wasn’t entirely sure these guys were for real or simply pulling the proverbial wool over everyone’s eyes (including their own).
It wasn’t until the gigging got more intense and they released their follow up to The Gift, a majestic box of nuggets called simply Sorry, that I realized they were the real deal. They were taking an oft over looked scene, that of the serious noise rockers like the aforementioned Jesus Lizard and Melvins, or Cop Shoot Cop and Big Black, and fist fucked into sounds from bands as diverse as AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails and Incesticide-era Nirvana – like a TurDucken of music. To incorporate this new musical growth, a sixth member began to appear at live shows, multi-instrumentalist Martin Schiller (87 Things For The Future, What Seas What Shores, Space Vampire, Star Trek: The Band). Poughboy was here whether we liked it or not and they never failed to impress (or revolt).
This realization was capped off with one of the show stealing performances of last December’s FunnelFest, when Poughboy literally tore the music scene a new asshole and served it back to everyone in the form of vomit coated escargot with a hint of ballsack. These guys were arrogance and confidence personified and no matter what the critics can say, their music live (and on record) is as tight as Mother Theresa’s anus. That previous spontaneousness is actually a well planned out and executed musical revolution that is as much about awakening as it is about forced masturbation.
And now it comes to this.
This Friday, appropriately right before the sheep and their ram have declared an impending Judgment Day (and they said we’d never see a T-1000 in real life!), Poughboy are releasing their heavily anticipated opus End of Men, a 15-song soundtrack for the forthcoming apocalypse that just very well may be their own White Album (or Blight Album). Packaged with a 36-page cover table book of artwork and representations guaranteed to excite, titillate and offend (perhaps as a finger poke nod to the absurdity of Radiohead’s “newspaper album” release for King of Limbs earlier this year), End of Men is worth the price of admission.
While the Touch & Go presence that was so obvious in early material is still present in the background, Poughboy have matured (well, musically at least) into their own wrecking ball of sound. Their are so many influences present (conscious or not) that they’ve simply re-materialized as what any great band inevitably seeks to become: they’re own voice. This album is monumental, from the epicly powerful “End of Men” to the sing-a-long debauchery of “Gadgets/Teledildonics/The Clutch” (which I guarantee will have more than one of you chanting “Hands up, who wants to fuck!” not only at the show but at church on Sunday) this album delivers in a big way and already may be fit to be crowned 2011’s album of the year. It is a deconstructionist’s cookbook, that starts with a Tool-esque introduction (aptly titled “Introduction”) that segues beautifully into a monster ball crusher called “Rock Salt”. This is the kind of anthem that makes you want to chug Jack Daniels right from the Devil’s teat while your masturbating with a baby seal. “Too Tight” is as close to the Twist as Poughboy could venture and by twist I mean the head of your penis off while dancing. Don’t worry, you can sew it back on while you’re drawn down to the sludgery bottom with “The Fuck Politics”. “Tape 1: My Love Will Eclipse The Fucking Son” is an electronic cacophony that serves as a schizophrenic sorbet to gear you up for the second half of the album with mind bending effectiveness. “The Brazilian” takes over and welcomes you to the New World Order with a swagger usually reserved for rhinos on too much fermented fruit. The Tom Waits meets Big Black “Two Shivs” and the aforementioned “Gadgets” carry through the second half, leading into a highlight and sneaky track entitled “Blackie Lawless Can’t Touch Me Now” that takes sampling to a whole new level of both homage and “Go fuck yourself”. “The Pink Sock” and “The Canary” are both as close as Poughboy will ever get to playing straight ahead rock and roll and even that’s about as close as this humble reporter will ever get to actually fucking Natalie Portman in a phone booth in the Nevada heat (which is pretty fucking far). The penultimate “The Fashion Dyke That Ate Dennis” is an aural descent that gives the listener one final warning to get out before the inevitable “End of Men” occurs, with all its glorious sonic layers and levels of Hell. “Man It Up” closes out with a debaucherous shout out to AC/DC’s “Jailbreak”.
Sonically, Poughboy has never sounded tighter or better produced. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the kind of polishing that mainstream bands like Nickelback or Finger Eleven strive for, but closer to the aural sects of producers like Sylvie Massey (Tool, Rage Against The Machine) or Butch Vig (Nirvana’s Nevermind). They’ve managed to wrangle in all the elements without sacrificing the source or letting the production become the product itself.
So if your ears haven’t gotten too soft on a steady night of Ben Harper or Jack Johnson, if you’ve still got a burning in your belly for what rock and roll has always been about, or you simply like to slow down and watch the carnage after a car wreck, you would serve your eyes and ears well by heading to Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) this Friday night when Poughboy finally opens the corals for the Four Horsemen’s steeds and unleashes the End of Men.
But don’t say you weren’t warned.
Poughboy ‘End of Men’ CD Release with special guests The Mad Ones and (wh)y.m.e.(??), Friday May 20, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm