Psychic Graveyard / USA Nails split LP
I’m not sure if people understand what a force ARAB ON RADAR was when they emerged before the turn of the millennium. The first time I saw them—resplendent in their janitor uniforms—they hit “go” on the strobe light and the band jolted to life like Frankenstein’s monster. The entire crowd backtracked ten steps in two seconds flat. Maybe “scurried” is a better description. DEVO, US MAPLE, and BRAINIAC weren’t just getting thrown into the blender, they were swinging a lawnmower around, chopping up bodies Dead Alive-style. And ARAB ON RADAR continued to deliver the goods up until they split. Afterwards came CHINESE STARS, who I always found frustrating. They didn’t have the killer instinct of RADAR nor quite the methodical precision of SIX FINGER SATELLITE. DOOMSDAY STUDENT was a good-enough rehash of ARAB ON RADAR, but to those who witnessed the first go-round, it wasn’t quite as much of an illicit thrill. Featuring some of the same key players, PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD delivers on the electro-punk promise of CHINESE STARS and pilots it straight into the eye of the hurricane. “Building You a Rainbow” is a suitably mellow-harshing recounting of whatever new age bullshit has crossed your path this week. Singer Eric Paul lists the various permutations of this noxious blather with a withering tone. If “Love My Skeleton Too” is what passes for romance in PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD’s world, then sign me up for the next speed-dating night. PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD’s side of this split is a surprisingly enjoyable trawl through a battered and beautiful landscape. The UK’s USA NAILS are the perfect complement to PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD. The London-based trio has been around for almost a decade now and their noise rock pummel still hits as hard as ever. These dudes are one of the few bands that took the influence of a band like MCCLUSKY and further refined it. And when I say “refined,” I mean “beat the living shit out of,” cuz these cats don’t mess around when it comes to inflicting damage. But they got songs as well, which makes the squall that much more disorienting. “What Have We Become?” is an example of restraint even as it throbs menacingly. “God Help Us If There’s a War” pairs up understated vocals with seesaw bass and a melodic guitar line. Nothing but pure, uncut high-quality goods on this evenly matched ocean-spanning split.