To me, the whole wonky, skrankly indie rock thing rests on structure. You can write a pretty cool, fucked up syncopated guitar twang riff by knocking your guitar over. Seriously – try it yourself. Just make a loop of your guitar falling over, preferably letting it mute and scrape along the side of your bed as it falls. Chuck a well chosen chuggy one note bass line underneath and a solid beat and there you have it, a rich soil in which to plant your verbal musings. What separates the men from the boys, however, is how you string these serendipitous stranglings together. Take Shellac's 'Prayer To God'. Try as I might, I can’t imagine those chords having been written in any other way than simple trial and error – grabbing the guitar and grinding fingers into angry, angry shapes. But the point is, there's so much more to The Good Stuff than just a riff that'll set your teeth on edge. It's about how it's developed, how it's used, what it means, or chooses not to mean or whatever.
Shooting At Unarmed Men have all the influences in place – a bit of Dischord Records, chirpy major chord post punk à la the Futureheads, Pixies. All darn well and good, but imagine if you were to take one of those sounds and just loop one of their scratchy riffs and plug it into a versechorusversechorus structure. Not a lot of fun. Hence the only remotely fulfilling track here is slowie 'When Potent Means Don't', in which some attempt at songwriting appears to have been made. The guitars enter irregularly but somehow organically, complementing the anguished vocals pretty well.
Whereas a band like Half Man Half Biscuit restrain their drums and rocking tendencies so that their lyrics can shine through, here any oomph in the music is lost just to expose some plainly banal lyrics, delivered in a hoarse, ugly, and, frankly, wacky manner by ex-mclusky backing vocalist Jon Chappell. "Can anybody cope with another song?" he asks on 'Four Eyed McClayvie', begging for a smart-arse negative put-down. We shouldn't deny them the opportunity to prove themselves, but for now this isn't good enough.
3Christopher Alcxxk's Score