...a righteous and focussed stomp through some “hellish” urban future when there’s no more Kanye or broadband to console you: “we got bad news for you” indeed.
A record of moods, messages, brazen noise and West Coast anger, and driven by an intelligence that is kept in reserve for the appropriate moment, High Castle’s Spirit of the West is a work of some stature. It all kicks off with Swamp Thing, a daft, slightly histrionic scuzzathon. What’s immediately noticeable are the slightly strained adenoidal vocals, which have something of the preacher man about them. There’s a cod theatrical quality there that reminds me of Biafra or even Lux Interior.
Then we have Innocence - by turns quiet and moody or raucous and irascible: a post amphetamine grumble built on a sliding riff and some spattered drumming. Single We Were Lovers is marvellous; a righteous and focussed stomp through some “hellish” urban future when there’s no more Kanye or broadband to console you: “we got bad news for you” indeed.
Some of these titles could get you thinking of Guided by Voices – Bee Medal, Crustaceans Demise and Farewell To Limbs are cases in point; though the songs themselves are much more histrionic and insistent than the classic backwoods GBV drawl: though Crustaceans Demise gets close (it could be a demented Soft Boys track too). I read somewhere that they sound like the Minutemen as well, and yes I can hear that a bit.
Best track on the record has to be Half Mass, with its playground chorus disseminating a brutal message: whereas After God and All Ages Nightmare continue the thumping apocalyptical vibe. It’s a great, sharp and focused record and could be a soundtrack for our times.