Slum-living, post-collegiate chokeouts are once again on tap from outerborough downers Twin Stumps, who for as manufactured as that description may read, actually delivers but hard on their first album. While last year’s self-titled EP made for a sickening introduction, Seedbed attempts to calcify their detuned, nihilistic plod with small turns left and right. The good news is that the formula almost always works, even in quieter moments of anonymous thud – this band makes no bones about wanting you to think you need Dramamine to finish listening to their records, and take pleasure in extending the cycle of abuse across the full spectrum of human hearing. Those who opt for the digital download may want to remove their in-ear headphones for the beginning of “Pope’s Nose,” and those who don’t have lost enough hearing to warrant a doctor’s visit.
The shitty, digital crunch of this recording goes against the lawnmower totality of the earlier record, yet all of the subtleties are captured and layered in the mix so that very little is buried. This additive process yields troubling results visible even when the record’s not on, with song titles like “Lust Murder,” “Pigs at the Trough,” and “Caged Emily,” and a particularly nauseating photo of guitarist Allan’s balding scalp on the front. It’s not something I want around all the time, but the existence of these records tells me that there are people willing to pick up the banners dropped by early ‘80s Swans, Of Cabbages and Kings, and Charlie-era Unsane as a true barometer for the general distemper of young, awkward people in NYC and beyond.
We didn’t have it this bad for most of the ‘90s and for most of the ‘00s, certain incidents notwithstanding, but now all of our noses are a little closer to the dogshit out on the sidewalks, and this band makes a strong case of how to react: with despair, howling resentment, and unshakeable fear. If they had any stage presence outside of “weird little craaaazy guy” on vocals, they might pack even more menace.