Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chief Thundercloud/Walrus split CS (2013)

Just in time for creeping fall blues, Halifax drops two offerings in one on ya. Walrus is a tried and true DrugPunk fave, while Chief Thundercloud slipssome downer blooz your way that forms a nice contrast with the former's sedate neopsych.

It's a dicey proposition, jacking riffs from Daniel Johnston: mere competence at evoking DJ's sound don't cut it. There's two ways you can go about aping the great D.J. The first is to act as "quirky"* as Johnston is on early favorites like "I eat cigarettes." This is the tack favored by dipshits such as Devendra Banheart, who mostly just come off sounding like shitbirds whose parents bought them a recording studio and a bag of mushrooms as a present for graduating from RISD. OR, you can go out on a limb and try to convince us that you're just as sad as Daniel Johnston. To succeed at the latter, you either have to be such a good actor, you might as well be on Broadway, or in fact be seriously deranged//depressed and walk around every day feeling like I do after polishing off a 6-pack and Tuscan red after getting in a screaming match with an ex.

Either way, Chief Thundercloud manages to pull it off. Of course, some of this is due to the clever use of hushed production. But he hits just the right note for when you're feeling sad but not exactly despondent, if y'knowhatImean. "Nothing's Gonna Stop" has some of the best dumb-straightforward lyrics I've heard this year. Here's the chorus: "I need you in my life [full stop] More than any other time [full stop]." Sneer all you want, can you do any better? The rest of CT's side is more of the same: wistful, forlorn, and subdued strings of autumn anomie.

Walrus, true to form, continues down the road carved on previous splits and brief EPs. "Brian" is a jaunty bit of airpop: almost-bouncy drumming, truncated singing, and minimal guitar. "Little City People" might be my favorite Walrus tune yet, gliding by under the radar sounding like  Jefferson Airplane outtake with a majestically surprising finish. Listen to it instead of reading my description of it.

Taken together this is a dynamic split-which is more of an achievement than it sounds, given that most splits I've ever heard might as well be a full album by a single band, given how similar the two sides are. Play the Chief Thundercloud side when yr broken up over yr ex but already have a new one in the works, play Walrus the morning after you've hooked up with said new rose for the first time.

Walrus lives here, while Chief Thundercloud skulks over here.

*"quirky": a nice, pleasant euphemism that lame cunts use to paper over the fact that Johnston is a schizophrenic who, as far as I can tell, has lived his life in immense pain; mental illness isn't cute, it's sad and shouldn't be glorified by anyone, present drug punk included. 

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