Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Rat At Rat R - Amer$ide/R​ock & Roll Is Dead Long Live/Rat [Ektro Records - 2012]

When my first, quick scan of the inlay noted the words “rock & roll” and a photo of some long-haired wastrels in black, I’ll admit I wondered what was in store for my ears. For some reason, my first thoughts conjured up trashy, debauched rock antics; but I was quite wrong - though Rat At Rat R are nothing if not trashy and debauched, but in a bleaker, darker sense than standard glam rock theatrics.

The name had the slightest presence in my brain, but a little digging found some more context for these recordings; so, in brief, Rat At Rat R were part of the New York City noise scene, with bands like Sonic Youth and Swans as their contemporaries. (Indeed, Moore is quoted on the inlay: “rat at rat r were impressive as usual, if not a bit pissed off at life itself” - from his Killer zine, 1984.) The Sonic Youth association gains more ground with the knowledge that Rat At Rat R’s bassist, Sonda Andersson, was Glenn Branca’s cousin; and that the guitarist, John Myers, is his conductor.  This reissue of “Amer$ide/Rock & Roll Is Dead Long Live/Rat At Rat R”, their first album, is a remastering of the recordings from 1984-1985; originally engineered and mixed by Martin Bisi (a name you’ll recognise) and now remastered by Weasel Walter.

As rude as it might appear, it seems prudent to explore Rat At Rat R through a direct comparison with Sonic Youth. It feels like they were both aiming at similar destinations, but where the latter were travelling along a “soundier”, “avant-garde/art” route, the former were travelling a “rockier” road. Thus, Rat At Rat R often feel much more accomplished and comfortable than their contemporaries in terms of songwriting, riffing, vocals, etc - though you could just as easily argue that Rat At Rat R were simply more conventional. So “Amer$ide…” sometimes feels like an evolved Sonic Youth of the time, utilising guitar noise and noises but subordinating them to song-form structures and melodies - rather than the all out sturm und drang of albums like “Sonic Youth” or “Confusion Is Sex”. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t moments of cacophony on these recordings: the mid-section of “Rape” is just that, with its circling bass-line holding together a gathering storm of clattering drums and guitars. On the whole, though, Rat At Rat R create angular rock songs; marked out by playful guitar work and a vocal that ranges from r’n’r holler to something approximating a “lighter” Michael Gira howl. Sometimes, the guitar, vocal tone and occasional violin combine (on “Bloodshot”, for example) to remind the ears of King Crimson - though very much Fripp’s younger, scuzzier, angrier cousin. The angularity of much of the album does ensure a sprightliness and dynamism; though there are passages which evoke the “lumpiness” of some early Swans/Sonic Youth recordings.

I feel like I’ve said very little about Rat At Rat R themselves, but I’ve always felt that the bands from the New York No Wave/noise scene were very entangled; and in that respect, comparing them to a contemporary isn’t perhaps so bad. Whilst some of those contemporaries have gone on to become very famous names, others - like Rat At Rat R - have been left languishing in excellent record collections. Hopefully this reissue will readdress that. As with Sonic Youth, you can hear any amount of future bands on “Amer$ide…”; though Rat At Rat R’s more rocking instincts means you can add Jesus Lizard to the usual list of abrasive indie guitar bands. To continue the comparison (for better or worse), “Amer$ide” shows a band somewhat trailing Sonic Youth in terms of sound and experimentation, but leading them as far as songwriting and structures go. Now, at worse, this could be viewed as an unhappy mean - the worst of both worlds; but to my ears it means a post-punky Sonic Youth that you can dance to. Surely that can’t be a bad thing?

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Martin P
Latest Reviews

Rat At Rat R - Amer$ide/R​o...
When my first, quick scan of the inlay noted the words “rock & roll” and a photo of some long-haired wastrels in black, I’ll admit I wondered what was in...
071222   Mad God - Mad God(Blu Ray)
071222   Smut Without Smut Vol. 1: Thi...
051222   Christoph Dahlberg - Blackforms
051222   Richard Pinhas/ Merzbow - Coda
051222   Death Loop Faction - Max Carnage
051222   Opus Magorum - Opus Magorum
041222   RJ Myato - Doubtless Empty
021222   Ingar Zach - Musica Liquida
021222   Mattie Barbier - Threads
021222   Marcia Aitken & June Lodge - ...
Latest Articles

Dr Tom Whittaker - The notoriou...
Late last year Severin released Eloy de la Iglesia’s Quinqui Collection- a two Blu-ray set bringing together three brutal and provocative Quinqui (deli...
061222   Dr Tom Whittaker - The noto...
231122   Hastings of Malawi - Deliriou...
011122   Raffaele Pezzella - Pursuing ...
111022   Fouke - Bigfoot walled noise
150922   Joe Sherlock - The King of mo...
230822   Sdug Bsngal - Some Scars Run ...
020822   The Night Porter & Slowgurn p...
200622   The Worse Album In The World ...
240522   Noir On Powerhouse Films - Fr...
260422   Schloss Tegal - Back To The ...
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 -2017. Celebrating 16 years of true independence!! Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=comBottom