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The Trashies - What Makes a Man Get Trashed?

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Artist: The Trashies

Album: What Makes a Man Get Trashed?

Label: Mortville

Review date: Aug. 21, 2007

Don't give a rat's ass? It's an easy philosophy for life, but harder for making music. Put too much effort into a band, and it betrays rat tush-coveting professionalism. No nihilist is going to be concerned with climbing up the club-and-label food chain. But the other direction leads to one-shot jokes and monotony. And playing for hardly anyone outside of the drinking circle.

The Trashies get it right. That band name couldn't have taken too long to come up with, but gives fair warning that the disc is going to open with a scuzzy guitar and close with the gurgle of a water bong. In between, they sling a dozen tracks of rock 'n' roll that's all over the place. "Corndogs and Ranch" is a precise gallop. "Are You Done with That?" doesn't care that the organ and guitar head off in different directions. The opener is thick and full of menace, except for a dingaling cowbell that intrudes on the end of each verse. You can still sense the snicker that went around the practice space when they added that bit.

The jokes here, they're good for more than a few shots. They can hit hard ("The CPS took my baby away / I don't really care / I never wanted it anyway /I'm glad that it's not there") but they're just as effective when celebrating sunburns and filthy apartments. It's the observations about light bulbs and scrounging unfinished food that makes the blunter complaints work. Everything is a source of annoyance for these guys, and a source of amusement. So when a the singer brings up the topic of an infection that interferes with his "needs," the rest join him in a chorus of cheerful whistling.

Since the tempos and perturbed outlook of early punk have been absorbed into mainstream rock for a while now, true miscreants have had get more creative to irritate the ears. There's been two main approaches – ever more sloppy garage and wound-tight spazz. The Trashies walk through both gutters, favoring the garage, but frequently swirling off into no-wave, No Trend howling. Their treble is awkward and tense. The low end swings. The singer's voice is nasal enough to cut through any muck. They leave out any kind of middle tone or middle ground. Screw garage – this is cellar rock. Down there, with the concrete slab and sweating pipes, and the beer cans piling up, a young man's indifference can truly blossom. Like the mold growing inside the amps, like the mushrooms sprouting from the drummer's mat, What Makes A Man Get Trashed? springs from stale but fertile air.

By Ben Donnelly

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