Thursday, April 17, 2008
Back in the early '90s when Sub Pop was getting national attention for it's noisy "grunge" bands, there was another label out of Minneapolis on a similar mission, releasing limited edition singles of underground rock and punk bands. That label was Amphetamine Reptile. Often Seattle bands would put out a single on AmRep and AmRep bands would be on a Sub Pop single, the two labels even did a few co-releases. Only the thing about Amphetamine Reptile Records was, rather than being like a sister label to Sub Pop, it was more like Sub Pop's creepy drunk misogynist uncle. Sure, Tad and The Dwarves seemed kinda scary to me at the time, but Amphetamine Reptile was putting out bands that were tens times more fucked up. They had twice as much feedback and distortion going on. They had album covers with dead and bloody people on them (a classic Unsane album cover showed a NYC subway suicide with a guy laying dead on the tracks with his severed head in a pool of blood). Hell, they sounded like they were on PCP, would beat you up, steal your money and rape your mother. The music of some AmRep bands sounded as if the band was dragged across a factory floor through chemical spills and rusty metal bits by chains as they played and the singer growled out the lyrics.
I paint this pretty picture to get you on the same page as me when listening to Seattle band Arbitron. They come straight from the school of fucked-up-edness that spawned bands like the God Bullies, Jesus Lizard, the Cows, the Melvins and Surgery. And they are only two guys! But they use an array of effects pedals to layer in the feedback, loops, distortion and noise. The result is filthy, ugly, noisy, self-indulgent... and occasionally borders on brilliant when it all comes together right. See what I mean right here. This photo is from a show they did a few weeks at at the Monkey Pub in Seattle's U-District.