Let’s do the time warp! Carnage Bargain transports me back to the early 1980’s, when punk, New Wave, No Wave, and rock and roll were slippery categories brilliantly ignored by the musicians making the music. The Paranoyds are from Los Angeles, where cool music emerges from the margins in spite of it being a music industry town. While the big players are crafting their perfectly auto tuned product, a band like the Paranoyds stumbles to life like that science project you found in the back of the refrigerator.
“First Face” kicks off the album with punkish bravado. I was immediately taken with what sounded to me like Exene from X fronting the Attractions. Lexi Funston’s deadpan drawl compliments the songs two note guitar riff and keyboard vamps. “Girlfriend Degree” takes the piss out of modern relationships, “my boyfriend takes care of me, all I want is my girlfriend degree.” (Not really). I like how the Paranoyds project punk or riot grrrl or whatever sort of badassery you care to mention while still remembering to have a decent song hiding under the guitar skronk and wheezy organ noise. When the closing track, “Ratboy” closes with an extended organ solo, it makes me think of Ray Manzarek which, of course, brings me back to X. (Yeah, you can call me obsessed if you want. If X ever make a new record, I hope it’s at least half as good as Carnage Bargain).