October in the air? Here’s three album reviews, first the LP release of the C.H.U.D. Soundtrack, the new one by Detroit’s finest, Electric Six and the enigmatic, Black Wing
It’s easy to bemoan the dearth of original soundtrack. The bygone era of lavish scores, filled with character themes and illuminated moments seems ancient, reserved for a swatch of cinematic experience, has long since passed and is yet worthy of eulogy because it offered something unique. There was a golden age of movie score, and we’ve long since churned it under the soil.
Speaking of under. Depending on the metric employed, 1984’s C.H.U.D. is pretty darn far from classic (or, it is the absolute classic trash/B-horror movies of all time; your choice, but this won’t devolve into a movie rant) but its soundtrack is the stuff of legend. Standing for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers” the film score follows in the iconic, Halloween inspired tradition for horror movies, featuring simplistic synthesizer laden punctuation paired with a few minimalistic but wholly evocative themes. Taken as a stand alone piece of music, the CHUD soundtrack is rich with wry, humorous moments even when removed from the film’s context.
Never before released on wax, the C.H.U.D. Soundtrack composed by Martin Cooper and David Hughes is at times spine tingling and others gut wrenching, making it a plain necessity for horror fans, soundtrack completists and anyone who seeks to line their shelves with camp. I find this a hard tendency to explain but I’ve turned it on a few times in the early morning hours and let it play quietly in the background, a rewarding exercise as the sun wanes, the air cools, and the time for rusty vines and wind swept soil consumes the world around us.
I’m a sucker. Go ahead and say so, the guys in the band sure as hell would. Every time a new Electric Six album comes out, I get excited, circle it’s release date, prepare my liver for another bottle smashing tour. Somewhere on the road between east coast punk rock and wing-tipped rock-a-billy, the five guys from Detroit put on a show like no one else.
Anyone who knows the band, knows what to expect when they peel back that red curtain. Crackling punk guitars, Dick Valentine’s snarky views on gutter life, focused on sex, plus a whole lot of thunderous dance hall energy. For a half dozen strong albums, Electric Six didn’t exactly write great songs in a critical sense. No. They wrote killer anthems, hallmark tracks like “Gay Bar” and “Nuclear War (On The Dance Floor)” “Danger! High Voltage!” and “Heavy Woman” (just to name a few) are memorable, hard rocking dance floor numbers that you can sing aloud.
If Electric Six aren’t your thing, fine. Move on, take yourself really seriously (everyone else does). I reviewed another record just below this. If they are, you may find Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die a rather intriguing listen. While Valentine and crew have always danced around dark themes, this record begins to resonate them. There’s an otherness to it, a layer of brooding, a seed that started on earlier records as the guys matured, found real disappointments and happiness to boot. While the songs on Bitch are still fun, kick off your shoes and break down songs, it feels like the band is turning over a new leaf. Hard to believe for a group of guys who sang, “Naked Pictures Of Your Mother” but the autumnal point of view is palpable.
Black Wing can’t relate. Black Wing is hot. Black Wing threatens remote country villages, the shadows from which remind your of a Knut Hamsun novel. Black Wing knows it. Black Wing… Is Doomed. Black Wing tours in a white Econoline van, which stays neat until fuck all half-way through the tour when everyone just dumps their trash but somehow always remains filled with meaningful silences. Black Wing has a heart to accompany its raw menace. Black Wing’s best song is “Death Sentences”. Black Wing transmits images that flash curiously throughout the winter night, of skinny boys with pale, flailing arms, key boards slammed with blatant disregard. Black Wing gazes at shoes. Black Wing alternates between dour and fierce, emotional and vapid. Black Wing reminds me of Bauhaus. Black Wing is revelatory. Black Wing, where they’re from is inconsequential, where they’re going, that’s the most critical thing although I can only guess where that is (far away from the monotony of Connecticut). Black Wing’s best song is “My Body Betrayed Me”. Black Wing knows your secrets. Black Wing would step over your mother, sleeping on the floor of an independent book store to grab a copy of Tape Op magazine only to glance at the back page and move on without a word. Black Wing is adventurous. Black Wing is self-referential, in the way a ghost knows its own name as kids chirp in the mirror during a sleepover. Black Wing is highly recommended. Black Wing’s best song is “Let Him In” one of the most amazing, dawn dropping album closers, like ever-ever. Black Wing didn’t mean to. Black Wing doesn’t make friends very easily, but once really liked a kid an outcast kid in 8th grade but that kid had to move to Des Moines, Iowa. Yeah, Iowa. They’re still trying to get over that one.