Country Teasers singer Ben Wallers channels Mark E. Smith through his
emaciated, uniform-clad frame. Wallers' vision of country music is
filtered through a puke-stained love for The Fall, producing an ugly,
atonal and noisy-as-fuck redheaded stepchild. With the Country
Teasers, Wallers and an assortment of fellow Scotsmen have recorded
three spellbinding albums that will drop jaws for how alternately
horrendous and amazing they can be, and how, most of the time,
they're simultaneously both.
Not a band for sticklers who like guitars and voices in tune and
drums in time, the Country Teasers are wonderfully sloppy. Live, a
group of haggard, bored-looking men and the eerily enthusiastic
Wallers coax a hint of twang from a shrill barrage of white noise. On
record, it isn't much different.
Science Hat Artistic Cube Moral Nosebleed Empire (or
S.A.M.E. for short) is a collection of unreleased recordings
the group made from September 1991 through the summer of 1996.
Considering how horrific (not in a bad way, though) much of their
released material has been, the idea of outtakes is a scary
one. And for good reason. The majority of S.A.M.E.'s 20 cuts
(40 on the vinyl version) are forgettable throwaways (most
disappointingly, their cover of Ice Cube's "We Had to Tear This
Motherfucker Up"), but three songs are positively perfect.
"I'm a New Person, Ma'am" begins with an out-of-tune piano repeating
two notes and Wallers declaring, "I was sent by the devil to raise up
Christ again." Now that he's declared himself the Antichrist, the
pace picks up. The piano dies out, leaving only the sound of tape
hiss until a disfigured guitar riff and drum machine kick in,
dragging Wallers' reluctant monotone along with it.
Several of the Teasers' favorite subjects religion, sex and
misogyny find their way into "Adam Wakes Up," which mutates
the book of Genesis into a sordid Garden of Eden tale that unites
Adam's and Eve's genitals, a worm, a crow and the serpent in a
bizarre food-chain orgy. But the lazy slide guitar and bass line that
trot behind Wallers' nonsensical mutterings are beautiful.
(A warning: some of Wallers' lyrics could be considered offensive. At first listen he seems racist, misogynic and homophobic, but if you dig into the lyrics a bit more, you'll find that they aren't what they seem. For example, in "Anytime Cowboy," a song from their debut, Wallers sings, "We are the Hitler of comedy/ And everyone else is a Jew." Anti-Semitic? Not really. In poor taste? Absolutely. But, on S.A.M.E. there is little objectionable material, unless you find sex offensive.)
Best of all is the melancholy and nearly refined "Secrets in Welsh."
The song actually has discernible parts (typically a no-no for the
Teasers) that build and intertwine towards a remarkable, drawling
chorus. It's still a bit careless, of course, but the strength of the
melody and Wallers' voice is arresting. It's a rare occasion when the
Teasers don't mask their subtleties in sheets of distortion.
This isn't an album for someone who has never heard of the Teasers
(which, as far as I can tell, is nearly everyone), but since their
earlier releases are impossible to find (particularly their brilliant
self-titled debut), it might be the only shot to hear one of the UK'
s best underground bands. Scottish Fall fans making country music
certainly sounds strange on paper, but the first moment Ben Wallers'
heavily distorted voice comes busting out of your speakers, it'll all