So There’s This Band…
Hell, with a name like that – how could I possibly not do a write-up on Shit? When they first sent their music over to me, I thought “Oh great, another neo-punk, indie band that’s trying to be really provocative so as people will listen to their incredibly bland music.” But then I gave it a listen, and was overjoyed to learn that this music really is complete shit, in all the best connotations of the word. The band hails from the South Coast of England, and proudly proclaims that like it’s something Americans would have any clue of. To a geographically biased mind like that of most of the population of the U.S., that’s like saying they’re from the Northwest corner of Antarctica. Well anyway, as they put it, that means they were “Born in the suburbs, where obscenity is no lower than art itself.”
So here’s the thing – these guys really do suck. It’s really fucking shitty ass music that showcases not one iota of musical talent, nor even a dose of wit to make it original. Here’s the other thing – they’re better than half the bands out there that think they’re making “real” music. At its core, music is all about being a part of something. It’s about finding a way to relate yourself to a group of people, or to an idea, or even to some divine overseer. In other words, music is not supposed to be about isolation. Even the most emo thing in the world that you listen to crying in you bed with headphones on – you’re still having that external connection with realizing that someone else has been in that same position as you so as to make music like this. So even though Shit are the most self-defecating band I’ve ever encountered, they still are massively succeeding in the most fundamental aspect of being a band – having a good fucking time and not giving a fuck what anybody else thinks. Sure, nobody is going to walk down the aisle to “The Rape Song” or “I Abused a Broom,” but that doesn’t mean that some lonely kid won’t stumble into one of their gigs thinking that the world is complete crap and that there’s no one who understands him, only to hear “Poo Piss Bum Willy Tit Wank” and realize that the world isn’t really worth getting so bummed out about. You know, this is the same kind of crap that Ween started out making, and they eventually evolved into writing some of the most beautiful, endearing songs I know of in this life.
Shit put out two albums in 2012, The Greatest Shits, and You Can’t Polish a Turd, and you can listen to them both on Spotify HERE. If you’re tired of people playing new music for you that is supposed to completely rearrange your conception of sound, then listen to Shit and realize that anybody, literally anybody, can and should make music. It’s a magical language – don’t feel like it’s something outside of your capabilities.
I’ve been a fan of The Philistines Jr. for about 17 years or so – ever since my older brother came back from his house in Port Chester, NY with their CD The Sinking of the S.S. Danehower and said “Listen to this album my roommate made – I think you’ll like it.” Now this was a time in my life when I essentially listened to The Grateful Dead, Phish, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. So a wickedly low-fi indie album predominately featuring shitty drum beats from a Lowrey Organ was pretty far away from my comfort zone. But the brilliant simplicity of the lyrics, the fact that I knew someone in the band, and the embrace of its own definition of pop music basically triggered a twitch in my head that would forever affect how I came to know and love all music.
I never realized that singing about bringing enough cords to a gig because there’s no Sam Ash near the venue, or about buying your friend’s parents a new vase from Caldor’s were lyrical references that could actually sound beautiful, but now those lines give me goosebumps just thinking about them. So while I highly recommend the Danehower album, which you can still order HERE from their website, most folks will probably resonate more with the much more well produced 2010 release,If a Band Plays in the Woods… Sure it took Peter Katis 10 years to finish it, but it’s worth it. Him and his brother Tarquin have an undeniably true passion and grasp on the essential things in life and music. As Peter says, “Write about what you know, so I write about my brothers and writing songs and home life and recording our band and other people’s bands.” When I first heard the opening cut, “Bus-Stop Song,” I literally listened to it 7 times in a row.
Now the Philistines are suddenly getting paid attention to as Peter has been gaining quite the reputation as a producer. Making albums in the comfort of his Connecticut home studio, he has been the go-to guy in the past few years for bands like Jonsi (of Sigur Ros) and The National. But his latest star attraction has been for Trey Anastasio of Phish – producing Trey’s newest solo release Traveler. And since Trey and Phish are the most over-analyzed band on the face of the planet, and since Trey mentioned that The Philistines Jr. played with Phish at some point in the 80′s, suddenly a bunch of websites want to know who these guys are and pretend like they’ve known the band all along. Most notably is the hippy mag Relix, who probably had never heard of this band, but since Trey said something they thought they’d be cool and do a feature on them. And I’m sure that the Katis brothers thought that the Relix office would be the last place they’d ever be asked to come and perform, but that they did, and below is the absolutely, utterly beautiful, quasi-acoustic performance they recorded just recently. And might as well include the entire soundclouod link of their latest album. Do yourself a favor and bring these guys into your life.