This Moment in Black History – Public Square

January 01, 1970

(Smog Veil)


Eight years and three full-lengths in, these blistering
punk-rock-screamers show no signs of slowing down.  Harder and more metallic than Cleveland’s
post-punk forefathers (Dead Boys, Ubu, Easter Monkeys), This Moment in Black
History toys occasionally with the pure distorted glories of classic rock
“Pollen Count”), but more often pushes faster, harder, more discordantly into
angsty, thrashy nihilism. “Theophylline Valentine” runs roughshod over
hammer-jammer beats, double speed, double volume, while “MFA” hauls its full-on
mayhem into abrupt, head-spinning dead stops.


Sometime in the ‘00s, the band got tired of answering
questions about its multi-racial make-up 
— for the record, drummer Bim Thomas (from the late, great Bassholes) and
bassist Lawrence Caswell  are black,
shouter Chris Kulscar is white and guitarist Buddy Akita is Asian — but
they’re not above a PC-baiting jab or two. Track two’s “Forest Whitaker (In an
Uncompromising Role)” lights blowtorch guitars to frame a sort-of tribute to
the nation’s best black actor, in a refrain of “Lazy eye/good looking out.”  And for those who have trouble processing the
idea of a half-black punk band, there’s one rap song slipped in for reassurance
— the short, ultra-out-of-place “My Notes,” which may or may not be a put-on.


Public Square really gains momentum near the close, with the fire-blasted, guitar,  tortured “Photo Negative,” the metal-dramatic
title track, and the long, sludgy, blues-inflected “Precinct,” a hallucinatory
dirge that opens up like a hall of mirrors, its distortion crusted guitars
leading off into all sorts of interesting byways.  Except for the screams, “Precinct” could be
coming from a psych band along the lines of Dead Meadow or Comets on Fire,
another intriguing direction for this genre-crossing outfit.


Standout Tracks: “Public Square”,
“Pollen Count”, “Precinct” JENNIFER


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