Saturday, 8 August 2009

Cows - Cunning Stunts (1991)

For Tomahawk bassist Kevin Rutmanis' post I could throw up any number of latter-day Melvins albums but his first band are a far more interesting proposition, especially since most of their albums are out of print.

As one might conclude from the band name, Blue Note-parody record sleeve and spoonerism title, Cows were an offbeat and manically unhinged take on the innovations of the hardcore punk fallout and, like the last couple of posts, a somewhat legendary band of the American underground... Except you would be afraid to make eye contact if you met them.
Taking their cues more from Captain Beefheart and his demented avant-blues than heavy metal, you sort of know something abnormal is about to go down when 'Heave Ho' opens the album with sound of a baby being smacked, blurred guitars and infamously-erratic singer Shannon Selberg's bugle. The album continues in this vein and never lets up, one moment recalling cowpunk and early Meat Puppets, the next Thor Eisentrager is doing a great impression of Melt Banana's ingenious noise riffage well before they made a name for themselves.

The overall result is more melodic perhaps than the pure atonal punk of their earlier records, but this is an unmissable gem of noise rock made by men who almost certainly sprinkled skag on their cereals. If you like early Sub Pop and even early Nirvana, but with an eclectic twist, thou shalt dig.

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