Gut Wringing Machine
This is incredible, just as the morning’s coffee hits me…
My first recollection of Naked Aggression is poor Rich Thurston’s excellently promoted, but ill-fated attempt to have them play Indialantic’s Hustler, back in 1993. The story was that their wheels just refused to make it past Tallahassee. Our loss. Had I known what we were going to miss, I’d have driven the 10-hour round trip and ferried them down to Melbourne and back. Gut Wringing Machine is the best Punk rock album of this year, and definitely one of the top ten Punk rock albums of the decade.
What makes for great punk rock is the sensibility to stick to the basics of punk. This requires a dedication not to “reinventing” yourself or changing with the times, but holding on to what the Ramones, Sex Pistols, (gotta throw in a few California bands in there!) Dead Kennedys, and X were, and the others who heard the battle cry of 1977 decided to do: play Punk rock!
But from my first recollection of genuine Punk rock, not what passes for “punk” these days, is its anthemic quality. A room or field filled with disgruntled youths like myself, needing an outlet for our frustration — our parents simply refused to listen — and our parents ignored the signs that we needed guidance, we needed leaders, we needed someone to harness our energy and make the free nations of this world the mightiest for all time. But since mom and dad were too busy, and the damn former hippies were busy making sure they could be in charge of things and make all the money; preparing for a time fifteen years later when one of their own would be king, we made our own leaders and our own music. Music that did the job: Fingers needing to be pointed, lyrics that subverted and offended, not for a powerplay, but to make the grown-ups who’d fucked up the world so much (mostly hippies… ) take a good long look at what it is we wanted. Mostly we were sick of that damn lame post-hippie hippie music that kept getting forced down our throats. That and disco, too!
Anthemic Punk rock has to include melodic power chords and almost scary vocal harmonies. To compare them with X wouldn’t be fair to either band, but consider a song like “Nausea.” Exene Cervenka’s voice has this eerie, almost supernatural quality. The same goes for Lene Lovich; the cute, yet anti-cute, that unique Punk warrior female, the Punk Joans of Arc…
Hey! This comes form the heart! I’m not trying to be pretentious! Naked Aggression’s music on Gut Wringing Machine does this to me! I want to slam my fist in the air with the rebellious Punk rock salute from the first song, “Every Day Another Conflict.” “Desperation” and “Stagger On” are two more that you can’t listen to sitting down! The downstairs neighbors nearly called the cops on me `coz I was making so much noise stomping around and shouting along! “Rage” spoke to me like a ghost of myself twenty years ago — when I was fifteen, thank you very much — and said, “I slam my fist against the wall/ It doesn’t seem to help at all… ” And with some of the most amazing guitar work (combining great surf riffs, hardcore power chords, and even some licks borrowed from Tony Iommi), this album defines the mission statement of Punk rock. Cargo Records, 1525 West Homer, Chicago, IL 60621