Night Wounds - Allergic to Heat (Woodsist LP)

Here's an LP I'm so late on I think it's gone plum out of print...but the CD version was put out at least fairly recently on Corleone so at least it's still kinda topical. You probably know by now so I'll just swing through the formalities - Night Wounds is an L.A. based unit who were the trio of Patrick, Ryan and Toby when "Allergic to Heat" was laid down but they could've expanded/contracted since then, I ain't knowing. They're also pretty busy, with a one-sided 12" also due on Corleano in addition to splits in varying formats with like-minded neophytes Soft Shoulder and Knitwitch, 10lec6, AIDS Wolf, Twin Crystals and Shearing Pinx. So plenty of other chances to catch em on wax if you missed this one indeed.
I will preface anything about to say with this - I don't really feel a lot of this new new noise rock clutter that's typically spawned from California or Providence or Montreal or anywhere for that matter (well Russia and possibly Zimbabwe aside). So I was predisposed to be indifferent (or hostile) to Night Wounds before I even played them. Now I won't say they flipped me on my head, but there are great moves all over this record, even enough for a miser like myself to feel rattling his bowels...if not to step out onto the dance floor just yet. Dig opener "Allergic to Heat", introduced by a clarion sax call and a steelwork stomp that digs into my shins and elevates my cullions in a way I've not yet known. There's only one line out of all the sneering vocals I can actually make out and it's "I wish I knew" and every time it rolls around it's just like fuckin' yeah, you know? I get the same feeling whenever "Ex Best Friend" crumples into mega-distorted Naked City type flip outs before whipping back into considerably fucked post-punk slobber, then grinding to a near-halt (must be all those DJ Screw influences I hear about) and ripping out a supremely styrafoam sax chomp from way deep inside the group's own intestines. Less thrilling to me is the rather straight-forward, anthemic "Nineteen" with its repeated chorale of "nineteen/act your age" and the angular, grinding riffage of "Caving In". Both to me seem lesser than what the group is capable of, but it's no raw deal since the LP closes off with three excellent numbers. "Hex Appeal" and "Damage" are both rampant bloodfeasts driven by drumming that thuds and resonates like a well-oiled/programmed machine, but no robot could handle the limbic workout doled out by the former, augmented by zoned out horn shrieks. The militant drumroll march of "Damage" keeps things pretty rigid throughout, allowing only for a shaking guitar scrawl unsolo to pull it through to the homestretch. And it's quite a stretch. At 8 minutes, "X.O.T." represents almost a third of the album's running time (a perfectly succint 28 minutes), and it brings together just about every one of Night Wounds' disparate influences to showcase them under one roof. Starting out with another sax solo amidst a rubble of scorched guitar noise and sloshed drums (not at all unlike a pared down version of those Borbetomagus and Voice Crack tete-a-tetes), the track slowly grinds into a skewed noise/funk rhythm, intermittently exploding with spurts of free improv/fire music wailings and dark, almost sludge metal menace. I'm wheezing over here.
Listening to Night Wounds, one can glean a whole lotta influences packed into their sweet n' sassy approach - This Heat, Faust, Black Flag, Dead C., D.N.A., Mr. Bungle circa "Disco Volante", the Residents, Iggy and the Stooges, Fugazi, Big Black, Liquorball, Butthole Surfers...you could go for days. The trick (and what makes em so likeable) is that they never sound exactly like any one of em, instead melding all parts together in a sweaty gob of gunk that makes for a pretty sweet ride, even if there are a few bumps along the way. You might say it should be no other way. If this doesn't sound like your bag, give it a shot anyway. I was a non-believer and came away quite impressed. If it does sound like your bag and you haven't heard it yet, you'll be in dirty, stinky heaven.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


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