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Meth Teeth - Everything Went Wrong

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Artist: Meth Teeth

Album: Everything Went Wrong

Label: Woodsist

Review date: Sep. 10, 2009

Meth Teeth, out of Portland, lashes the no-hope drone of dead-end blues to turbulent punk rock distortion. Beginning as the one-man folk project of Mattey Hubele, the band picked up steam when Kyle Raquipiso joined, suggesting that Hubele blow out his songs with Pussy Galore-ish distortion. Now with the band’s first full-length (after a single and the Bus Rides EP), only a trace of the folk remains, haunting the margins of “I Was Wrong” and the instrumental “My Heart’s Heart.” Maybe the strongest whiff of Hubele’s strummer past comes in the bombed-out desolation of the verses here, blistered over with noise, shot through with intermittent rays of pop, jostled by sticks-on-rims and tambourine rhythms and slapped sober, occasionally, by giant guitar riffs.

Consider, for instance, “Failures Selected by God,” with its great hulking guitar line that jumps octaves and back again. You can hear that guitar, a slash and hiss of cymbals and two guys shouting in unison as if from the back of a cave, though it’s difficult to make out what they are saying. Yet even without a linear narrative, the sense of threat is palpable; an alienation lurks in the migraine rhythms. “False Summer”’s riff is equally outsized, equally dark, but it breaks to let Hubele’s very deadpan, discouraged vocals through. There’s a duel between the flat-spoken verse and the much-drummed, very dramatic refrain. It’s as if the tentative melodies of a one-man folk band are being italicized and hammered home by the aggression of lo-fi rock.

A lightness permeates a couple of these songs – “Never Been to Church” and “Unemployment Forever”—in the form of bright, colorful guitar lines that sound a bit like Abe Vigoda. Raquipiso underlines this airier mood with rickety beats of sticks on rims and a one-two punch of bass drum answered by tambourine. There’s a weird carnival giddiness to these cuts, despite their downbeat titles. The album’s catchiest, most febrile song is called “World Is Going to End Soon,” a quick waltz through Dan Melchior territory, returning always to the refrain, “Sitting and staring and thinking of you.”

Late in the album, you begin to hear a little of the country folk world Hubele came from, a western shuffle embedded in “I Was Wrong”’s guitars, the bluegrassy instrumental interplay of “This is Not My Home,” the sunny clarity of “My Heart’s Heart,” wordless until the end when you hear the faint echoes of a choral sample. There’s a tendency to break things up evenly in these songs. An overly melodic line, a too-heart-felt lyric will almost always elicit a spate of rapid-fire drumming.

Like Eat Skull, Meth Teeth wraps fragmented bits of pop in a mesh of obstacles – cavernous distortion, buried leads and undecipherable lyrics. The songs win out most of the time, in a clattery, indistinct sort of way, though whether they’d sound better if you could actually hear them is anybody’s call.

By Jennifer Kelly

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