Saturday, September 10, 2016
XURS Self Titled Album - A Frenetic Exquisite Sledge Hammer Of Sound
Two of the songs on XURS's self titled album have the word "mass" in them. That makes absolute sense. Mass In Descent feature dissonant sounding chords half stepping around while lead vocalist Shane's wide eyed strident performance matches the tilt of the chords. His vocals feel more like the ramblings of that homeless man in the neighborhood who goes off from time to time, "I don't know when the wheels came off."
Giant Mass is even heavier, in fact, super heavy with that same kind of choppy descent into staccato driven chord strikes and stabs. The sound is full on experimental punkish rock. Think of Pere Ubu's 70's art rock blended in with the massive garage power of Metz and the discordant noisy jazz punk rock of The Flying Luttenbachers. The track Entitled is mad but exquisitely beautiful too in the way the guitar lines crazily dance with such headbanging rock precision. I'm Down feels like something a jazz fusion band would come up with after their minds were fried on something.
Often times this kind of cagey proto punkish free form style seems to be embraced by bands that keep the sound bright with some jazz tones too (like Zappa or Captain Beefheart or Rudy De Anda's incarnation Wild Pack of Canaries) but XURS for the most part uses the sledgehammer approach. Sure I'm Dumb is as furious as any Blag Flag song with progressions that change as quickly as a strobe light. The Order of Things also feels right at home in a dark and sweaty punk venue.
When I listened to I Don't Have To I imagined the Sharks and Jets in West Side Story (see below) in an angsty emotional breakdown. And maybe that is the crux of what XURS does. Their songs don't feel like songs as much as hyperbolic artistic explosions of anxiety and afterwards you feel calmer for having experienced all the vented rage.