If the driving force behind so much music in the previous decade was paranoia (best exemplified by bands like A-Frames and Tyrades, although if you bothered to listen close enough, you could hear it in the reactionary jingoistic bullshit of, say, Toby Keith..), what’s apparent halfway through this decade is that nihilism is the undercurrent of just about everything barfed out of what’s left of the music industry.
The overall sense of We’re Almost Finished and There’s Nothing We Can Do About It explains, in part, the obscene narcissism of our times, the “unique snowflake” syndrome, and the fact that Donald fucking Trump is seriously being considered as Presidential material.
Even the most moonbeamed practitioner of happy-fun sunshine beach blanket goshwow party rock knows, deep down, that something is wrong. Fair enough. Rock and roll has always been, in part, an escape from reality.
That said, it’s always refreshing when a band confronts and addresses what’s really going on around them head-on. The Seattle four-piece SSDD (Steal Shit Do Drugs) is one of those bands. It’s the soundtrack to watching the place you’ve called home for years/decades/your whole life fall to the tech industry doucheoisie, a bland horde fueled by jaegerbombs, queefing about from bar to bar via their preferred mode of transit--the booze trolley--endlessly squawking about not wanting a beer that’s “too hoppy.” Rising rents. Displacement. What’s next? Fuck it. Drink. Drugs. Now. No tomorrow, at least not here, maybe nowhere.
Which isn’t to say that SSDD are straight-up doom-and-gloom total bummer nihilists. …I wouldn’t consider them dear friends if they were. Nor are there songs socioeconomic critiques on gentrification. They’re not an oi band singing about the ol’ dole queue. It’s more indirect, pulsating through the music itself, and the members of SSDD--most with storied backgrounds in Seattle’s music scene playing in bands as diverse as The Intelligence, The Dutchess and the Duke, Coconut Coolouts, Monogamy Party, and Universe People (among many others)--have the vast musical talent to pull this off without sounding hamfisted, gimmicky, ersatz.
On their first release, the five-song cassette only “First Comes Money” (Help Yourself Records), the guitar sounds alone are a pure sonic expression of tension and anxiety, and the rhythm section pummels the point home. All of this underscores and heightens the frenzied vocal-bark of Kennedy Carda, who sings of passing out in front of bars, of a world about to burn, of celebration and brain-vacation dissipating into “so much degradation.” It’s a sound reminiscent of the kind of thing Touch and Go was putting out in the early 90’s, but devoid of 90’s nostalgia (thank God), and too self-contained and idiosyncratic to fit into any simple/easy classification.
While some of us are hoping they tour the Midwest sooner than later (hint hint), Seattleites can catch SSDD opening for Thee Oh Sees August 30th at The Crocodile, and a West Coast tour is in the works for November, and be sure to pick up their cassette out now on Help Yourself Records.
(photo courtesy of KEXP)
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