Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette
Oh. My. God. For a one-time punk acolyte who’s almost completely lost faith in the genre to come up with decent new ideas, Guitar Wolf is an amazing breath of stuffy, cigarette-and-booze choked air. In gloriously cartoon fashion, the trio throws together songs drenched so deeply in distortion that they create new levels of distortion, unintentional feedback and a general lack of listenablity. When “God-Speed-You,” the opening track, bursts into a guitar solo, it completely usurps the volume and intensity of the bass and drums, drowning them out completely before quickly disappearing to allow the resurrected rhythm section let loose more torrential waves of white noise. It’s incredible. The surreality of the album is bolstered exponentially by the absurd covers, particularly Bobby Troup’s “Route 66,” spun from the easy-going original into a ball of steel and uranium shot through with some hilarious Engrish.
It would be an interesting experiment to see how many people who claim to be fans of punk would find this too brutal a listening experience. It’s a rare occasion when you find a band of any genre who still embodies the DIY spirit of ’77, but it’s even rarer to find a group who pulls off a punk album that feels as honest, brutal and scary as Rock ‘n’ Roll Etiquette. With the recent death of their bassist, Guitar Wolf’s future looks uncertain, but even if they close up shop for good, their catalogue is a testament to the saying “punk’s not dead.”