ST 37 - "Down On Us"
(Emperor Jones 2002, EJ55CD)
From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
For their follow up to I Love to Talk, If There's Anything to Talk About, Texas space psych demons ST 37 head into somewhat more accessible rock n roll territory, while still retaining enough of their nasty space punk aggression and experimental bits to satisfy long time fans. The biggest change is that Carlton Crutcher is no longer a full-time member, only guesting on four tracks.
The disc opens with a trio of songs that on the surface have elements of straightforward rock. "The Grain Kings" is a power trip-pop song that is catchy and has a definite sense of rock n roll, but still has oodles of that nasty ST 37 space punk aggression. "A Huge, Rare Cheese" is similar but with killer meltdown guitars. "Stack Collision With Heap" is the track that would be ST 37's best shot at a single with college radio play. But don't let that put you off because the whining and winding ST 37 guitars are still much in evidence.
Things change dramatically, however, with "Daniel Said", a chunky slab of balls to the walls holy shit here comes a meteor SPACE PUNK! Phewwwww... not even 4 minutes long and this one wore me out. "Oh My, Goddamn" is a space punk instrumental that I enjoyed. And the band get a little into punk metal with "Caves Of Ice". "Sweet Thought" is a tune that almost has a love song quality, though all around it are ricochet UFO synths and whining trip guitars. "Hit In The Head" is similar but the guitars go far deeper into space. "Curse Of The Strained" is a trancier tune with haunting cello by guest Sara Nelson. But it soon blasts off into space with wall-of-sound chainsaw guitar chords and freakout alien synths. An excellent song. "You'll Die In A Carcrash" is a cool tune with classic ST 37 cosmic aggression. And the closing track, "Valentine Alibi", is a 14 minute psycho acid meltdown that plods along like Godzilla having a stroll through the streets of Tokyo. If you want something meditational you can forget it... this is dark and aggressive stuff that Klingons and Romulons everywhere will love.
In summary, for me this is ST 37 at their very best. The trademark ST 37 space and psychedelic punk sensibility is not only ever present but shows a band well tuned to one another during instrumental workouts and jams. Fans don't want to miss this one.
For more information you can visit the ST 37 web site at: http://www.st37.com.
Down On Us is distributed by Emperor Jones. You can visit their web site at: http://www.emperorjones.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz