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The USA is a Monster - Wohaw

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Artist: The USA is a Monster

Album: Wohaw

Label: Load

Review date: Nov. 15, 2005

Lots of people choose Lightning Bolt as the noise-rock duo to beat in today’s market, but the curmudgeons among us get a lot more enjoyment and viewing excitement out of the USA is a Monster. They have a similar sound and setup (large stacks + big drums) but the use of guitar plus octave pedal and effects (rather than bass bolstered by guitar amps) and knowledge of sonics over force affords this Brooklyn vagabond outfit all the cohesion and power that their Providence brethren have, only they’re more articulate. Also, you don’t have to contend with hundreds or thousands of people looking for some “sick shit” to enjoy them in the live setting, and they have no qualms about playing on a stage. The discerning listener will notice that both bands are labelmates, and heirs to the Load dynasty of noise-as-rock-or-lobster-bib.

Written as a double-album concept piece about Native American soil, those who degrade it and the lovers who commune on it, Wohaw is a sizable work that crosses the lines between NearFest style prog navelgaze with fierce hardcore flourishes and plaintive folk-song cadence. The lyrics provided by guitarist Colin Langevin and drummer Tom Hohmann are plaintive and often spoken-sung in a rhythm that directly influences the slippery musical interplay; abrupt, divebombing, then at times pretty and songbird-like, and again streamlined and professional (witness the Rush-like grandeur of the 10-minute epic “God is Dead,” complete with saxophone). There’s a lot to digest here, and the first half of the record keeps the histrionics to welcomed and controlled bursts, is long on the studda-step time sig abuse, and opens things up to a higher gear. Unfortunately, the record downshifts into a wholly acoustic side, which works well on its own, but not on this record – its deft and polite fingerpicking sounds like a side project and another band completely, and for that reason it must be recommended that these five songs be enjoyed on their own. Taking it one further, this album is not for the impatient; 75 minutes of most bands would try most listeners’ patience anyway, but for something this disjointed, it’s a lot to ask, like trying to endure the Colosseum live double-album completely sober.

There are too many bands, and it’s too easy to just get away with making a loud racket and having endurance on your side to measure up anymore. The skill and craft of the USA is a Monster turns a lot of amateur outfits over, turtle-like, unable to get back up.

By Doug Mosurock

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