'but from womb to grave
and everything in between
it gets real fucking mean,
and you wonder why i drink?
i wonder why we're not all drunks
sunk in our dumps where nothing changes.'
malady – ‘bad life’
Malady's debut record is a sharp commentary on the nature of towns like Richmond. The type of record that leaves the listener only hoping that the emotion the band is pouring into playing is what helps them deal with the issues on the record. In a long line of extremely fragmented views of today through the guise of post-hardcore Malady stands. Echoing the sentiments of 'The Underdark' and 'The Moon is a Dead World' Malady reflects the cold reality of our pain and desolation, but in doing that helps us examine ourselves. Certainly a record worthy of being the successor of City of Caterpillar and more importantly establishing the members of Malady as people to watch not only because of their past, but because of what their future might entail.
city of caterpillar
Verse En Coma represents Malady and City of Caterpillar's future. Featuring 3/4ths of the original City of Caterpillar line up as well as 3/5ths of Malady, 'Rialto' was a record most have been looking forward to for a very long time. In early 2006 with the release of the track 'Young Ones' (which has now been renamed as 'In a Factory) it was obvious that Verse En Coma was clearly tonally in line with Malady. What Verse En Coma does differently though is remove the post-hardcore sounds that are present in Malady and instead embraces the more alternative and grungy side of that band. Saying that Richmond and its surrounding areas are essentially playing grunge filtered post-rock is certainly not going to win them any new admirers, but I'm sure the bands could really care less. Verse En Coma is a lyrical reminiscent journey that is in sharp contrast to Malady's themes. Malady represented the desolation of the rural nature of areas like Richmond where Verse En Coma embraces that nature and happily plays in fond memories of growing up in those areas. 'In a Factory' perfectly accents this telling the story of two lovers who find love at a small workplace with the band seemingly celebrating their rebellious blue collar nature. Malady's other half went on to join the group Pygmy Lush who certainly sonically represent Neil Young and Bob Dylan much more than Verse En Coma, but the lyrical themes of Verse En Coma are so strongly reminiscent that the group seems to be clear fans of the heart on sleeve styles of Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Pygmy Lush's 'Bitter River' was an interesting release in 2007. The most polarizing part of the record was how strange the material was. Where Chris Taylor would sometimes fully embrace his Tom Waits influence there were other times when the music of the group would sound even heavier than pg.99. Also, somehow on the record the group had somehow showed off how much they enjoy Elliott Smith and Birchville Cat Motel. Luckily 'Mount Hope' isn't that scatter brained. The group does delve into rockabilly and drones a few times, but overall this record seems to establish the softer folky sound that Pygmy Lush is going for. The sound is somewhere between the aforementioned Elliott Smith and Neil Young with the group taking strong melodic points from Smith and coming of as Young with their incorporation of lush electric guitar touches. Tracks like 'Frozen Man' and 'Tumor' clearly evoke a dedication to early Iron & Wine and other pitchforkmedia.com folk darlings, but Pygmy Lush manages to make 'Mount Hope' sound not like a hardcore band playing folk rather just a solid somewhat different folk record.
'i'm sleeping in a basement;
it's cold and undusted.
the pictures are hanging
all my walls like a guillotine.
i know you know there is nowhere.
laying down here trying to think of nothing, i know you know there is nowhere to go.'
pymgy lush - 'asphalt'
A strength of 'Mount Hope' is although its feeling is essentially the same through its entirety the way the band makes you feel that way is not always the same. 'Red Room Blues' is a mammoth of a track with its length being just over eight minutes. Beneath mumbles of 'the bottles collecting old dust like trophies.' and other such personal images Pygmy Lush slowly builds soft blissful drones that eventually overtake the entire track. It is a beautiful technique that Six Organs of Admittance somewhat explored, but Pygmy Lush is much more simple and blissful in their delivery of acoustics counter pointed with noise. 'Red Room Blues' is immediately followed by the Tom Waits devoted 'Mount Hope' and Pygmy Lush's more eccentric nature comes out. The rockabilly territory that 'Mount Hope' represents is also revisited later on the album with the track 'Butch's Dream'.
‘Mount Hope’ sees Pygmy Lush at their most peaceful. Gone are the outbursts of screams and palm muted power chords. As the band has essentially been touring as a loud and soft entity, one assumes their next record will be entirely loud. While, I am excited it is kind of disappointing to think that the group will not revisit the beautiful sounds they did in making ‘Mount Hope’. Perhaps that adds to the intimate impact of ‘Mount Hope’ as it does feel like something that could’ve just been cast into any of the member’s closets. If one thing can be said about ‘Mount Hope’ it is certainly the most sincere record made by the members involved and that is saying something considering the alumni.
Malady - Malady (2004)
Verse En Coma - Rialto (2008)
pygmy lush link removed; check out myspace.com/pygmylush for ways to purchase the record as well as hear 'Asphalt'