Sunday, January 22, 2012
The Sharks - Everybody Just Rapes Me
December in Pennsylvania is a fickle and confused month. Mother Nature goes bi-polar all over our asses and people's behavior starts to mimic. Some days the temperature nears 60 degrees, and on those days people feel as though they've been blessed by God. You step outside on your front porch and the sun beams and the birds (whichever ones have yet to figure out which way is south) sing a beautiful melody just for you and your sense of enchantment. The soothing air caresses your skin and purifies your lungs. Your asshole-neighbor (who usually bitches at you about parking your car in the properly marked space) waves to you as he merrily whistles and skips out to his car, en route to a great day at the office. Then, once he's safely pulled away, his wife calls to you and offers you a "blow-job to end all blow-jobs" from herself and her 18-year-old daughter and her 18-year-old best-friend, in celebration of such a beautiful day. Yes. All is right and good in Pennsylvania when it's 60 degrees on a December morning. But then there are the other days - maybe even the very next day - when all hope is lost.
On those days, the sky is so dark and ugly that it seems to have been colored with charcoal and demon-blood. The wind stabs at you like an angry prison-mate with a shiv. The temperature can plummet so rapidly that those sweetly singing birds freeze instantly and fall from the sky all around you. The local citizenry quickly descend into madness and barbarism. It's enough to make you question the existence of a loving God or even any God at all, and inevitably you'll decide there clearly is not one. So, naturally, you call all your relatives and tell them to get fucked. You find a homeless man and beat the living shit out of him for no reason at all and steal his jacket. As a gesture of mercy, you wrap your cat in the stolen-hobo-jacket and throw it into the fireplace to ensure that Mittens' last moments on Earth weren't spent in a miserable, shivering rage of psychotic hypothermia. You pour a glass of scotch and just as you're sitting down to Google "how to tie a noose," there comes a heavy, loud, incessant banging at your door. When you answer, there stands your neighbor, quivering and dejected. He failingly tries to shout at you - something about his wife and daughter and how they were once so wholesome and pure - but the air is too thin and unforgiving so the best he can do is whisper and wheeze and swing his arms half-heartedly due to delirium, confusion, and poor blood flow. Puzzled and annoyed, you offer to tie extra nooses for him and his family and seeing no other way out of this senseless, ass-backwards mind-fuck of a month, he'll graciously accept.
That is a typical December in Pennsylvania: one day you're in the middle of a fucking Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and forest animals and concubines-galore, and the next day you're burning house-cats and organizing communal suicides.
Well, it was a Friday in the beginning of December in PA and I was Googling 'how to tie a noose' when my email client sounded an infuriatingly-pleasant chime that tells me I have another message to delete. So I deleted it. However, before I went back to my noose-tying education I happened upon a 3-month-old email from my buddy Racer that I hadn't read, which can only mean one thing - new music for review! Against my better judgement I put away my selfish desire to end my own life, made a cup of hot cocoa and plugged my laptop into my stereo to get a listen to The Sharks' 4-song EP, Everybody Just Rapes Me. With a title like that, I'd expect it to sound like a bag of cats being repeatedly struck with a separate, larger bag of cats. But nobody would be brave enough to actually put a respectable-looking cover on that album and try to sell it…would they? Let's find out.
The EP starts with "Give It Up," which at first sounds like a lost-cut from the Reality Bites soundtrack. It's a well-written tune with 50's rock and doo-wop sensibility fused with an alternative sound - a catchy melody, a danceable beat, some cleverly-disguised dirty lyrics. At first I was a little turned off by the song, but soon I realized that it was actually quite refreshing to hear this kind of charm in a new rock group. It called to some youthful, romantic side of me with a soft-spot for high-school dances - a side I've decided only exists because I actually failed to attend any dances during my high-school days. (Although at the time I was too afraid that Kevin Bacon might appear from under the bleachers and tell Chris Penn to start chest-bumping me as endless waves of glitter fell from the ceiling. It gives me chills just thinking about it. To this day, being in an auditorium makes me edgy and paranoid, and an unfortunate fact of my life is that I have many other irrational fears which involve Kevin Bacon, but I'll save that for when I review the Bacon Brother's latest cd.)
The second cut is the title track and it pulls out a punk/rockabilly sound that has me dancing around my living room. Word-splicers call it punkabilly, i guess, but whatever. Who's the vocalist? I still don't know, because I can't find a shred of information about this band, anywhere. A google search will turn up plenty of bands with the name "The Sharks," almost none of whom are the band I'm talking about right now. Anyways, I'm listening to this group called The Sharks. This song, "Everybody Just Rapes Me," is groovy. The title is a little melodramatic but, as you can see from my opening paragraphs, I have no qualms with that. The hook: "Here we go / Time to say, fuck them all / Raise a glass, to your body / Won't somebody save me? Everybody just rapes me!" makes me wonder what this song is really about. My best guess tells me that it is about sexual exploration and confusion, and the struggle of young men to find a balance between society's expectations for them to be decent, respectful individuals, but also to be respected as sexual conquerors. The swing/rockabilly style suits as a context for this contemplation, as swing-dancing is something like the more elaborate, energetic grandfather of daggering or the bump & grind. But for all I know this could be a large metaphor for some political statement about the Queen or something. The fact is that they're English, and I rarely if ever understand what an English person is trying to say.
Track 3 begins. "Dirty, horrible Jesus." Whoa, careful when you're tickling my heathen bones. Don't you know it's Christmas? Oh right, this album was released back in September. More well-structured pop-punk-rock. Damn these guys can write a good song without it being too commercial or too cheesy. The vocalist has once-again changed his singing style quite a bit. This time it's more like Paul Westerberg from The Replacements. That comparison doesn't do it justice. Damn it, who does it remind me of? I can't put my finger on it. I have no idea what this song is about. But I don't really care, and that is the best evidence of the catchiness of these songs. I like them even without relating to them in any way. And now I'm hooked. This EP is definitely going on my ipod.
If "Give it Up" was a lost-cut from Reality Bites, then the final track on the EP, "Sinners Song" is more like the movie Singles. It's more an acoustic, organic sounding song. The lead singer has removed the strain and stress from his voice, and he's decided instead to serenade you into the finale with heart-warming lyrics which remind us that drug addicts, burglars, liars, cheaters, smut peddlers, pimps, prostitutes and politicians are people too. It's like the British version of Green Day's "Time of Your Life." I'm sure The Sharks would be pissed to read that comparison, but to hell with them. As far as I know, The Sharks don't actually exist. Prove me wrong…
All in all, I really enjoy this EP. It may not sound like a bag of cats being repeatedly struck by another bag of cats, although I do distinctly remember hearing a few cat-shrills… OH NO! MITTENS! It varies in it's influences, the duo have great song-writing ability and are pretty flexible in their styles. You can check it out (and 2 other EPs) yourself on Bandcamp where it is available via download. The Sharks faithfully use a free or pay-what-you-want method for distributing their work, which I fully support. I highly recommend you give them a few dollars for their work if you enjoy this EP and hope to hear from them again. (It would also be nice if they could pay someone to put together a website for them and provide some SEO implementations.)
Until my next review, waveriders, in which I promise not to mention suicide (more than once). Hope your holidays were merry and bright, and I'll see you in 2012.