K-Holes – Dismania

January 01, 1970

(Hardly Art)

 

www.hardlyart.com

 

Like headlines blaring from tabloids published between the
mid-‘50s and late ‘60s (at which point worried parents and/or right-wing
whomevers seemed to give up the fight), one wonders: Does rock ‘n’ roll turn
its listeners into sociopaths? “Primitives?” Crazed, sex-obsessed, violent
teenagers?!

 

I can grow strangely quiet — other than the occasional yelp
or “Yeah!” – in the presence of effective head-banging fodder. Just feeling the
music. Dancing myself into, through, and beyond a froth. Loving the fact that
there’s nothing to say. Yeah, it’s something like sex, and something, I
suppose, like violence; ergo at least half the appeal of fierce, gnarly,
psychotic rock ‘n’ roll. 

 

K-Holes have moved beyond the growing pains of their Hozac
Records debut; a sort of we-can-be-the-Cramps/Teenage Jesus/Johnny Thunders
orgy that differed from Golden Triangle’s (the band from which two K-Holes
sprang) somewhat sunnier day at the bizarro rock circus. K-Holes’ seminal year
or so was dark, with sullen stares, hands on hips, experimentation, and some
misdirected angst and roll. My, how the band’s grown. As of Dismania, K-Holes are expelling
off-the-chain psychosis; generally of the post-punk variety.  Had the band emerged in 1981, it would have
competed for headlines and feature spreads with the Cramps, Banshees, and Wire,
especially in those ‘zines that tended to have cartoon pics of half-crazed
people with drool bubbling out of their mouths and looks of mad zeal in their
eyes; usually associated with being driven into an altered state by bands like
the Cramps, Banshees, Wire, and Dismania.

 

The guitars (one of which is manned by Cameron Michel, who
got me somewhat similarly excited with Golden Triangle) owe a little something
to Johnny Thunders and Rick Froberg. Sara Villard’s sax drones, which sometimes
sound like bagpipes, might owe a little something to early Roxy Music, or
AC/DC, or druids. Vocalist/guitarist Jack Hones (formerly of the Black Lips)
might owe a little something to Froberg. K-Holes might owe a little something
to Sonic Youth, John Dwyer (Coachwhips, Oh Sees, et al), Brigid Dawson, and
Golden Triangle.

 

The band gives psych-rock, or garage rock (either or both of
which, when they work, are better described as barely-controlled mayhem) a
better name than it’s tended to deserve for the last few years, other than some
things from Chrome Cranks, Unnatural Helpers, Golden Triangle, Obits, and some
tracks/all shows by Thee Oh Sees. The songwriting, as the cliché goes, probably
owes a lot to the devil and/or whatever god(s) the K-Holes are currently
worshipping. It’s consistently fresh. “Nothing New” (oh, irony) builds from a rather VU-like drone to a mountain of
threatening beauty. “Child” is a fiendishly pleasing four minutes of drone,
buzz, and icy-cool minimalism by Vashti Windish (ex-Golden Triangle), who
sounds like Debby Harry circa “Rip Her to Shreds” mixed with Siouxsie
Sioux.  “Rats” has the energy of Froberg
circa Drive Like Jehu. With Windish on the lead vocal, “Mosquito” revs like a
speeded/mussed up “Human Fly” (Cramps) before exploding in axe yelps and
skirmishes. The pounding drums, power riffing, and demented blurts of “Dirty
Hax” make for an exercise in exquisitely simplistic vehemence (and will answer
the longings of Jehu-deprived junkies).

 

It’s all smartly arranged. Moodier, slower numbers are
interspersed with hot-tempered outbursts in a way that keeps the band from
crying anything like “wolf”:  Everything
has weight. And makes just about anything (other than the examples cited above)
that’s been calling itself Retro/Garage/Psych Rock sound, suddenly, rather
tame. 

 

DOWNLOAD: “Nothing New,” “Mosquito,” “Child,” “Dirty Hax” MARY LEARY

Leave a Reply