Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dust It Off: Destroy All Monsters - Bored

Here at Radio Flyer Review, I like to tell you about the cutting edge of indie music, but I hardly ever get a chance to tell you about the great stuff you may have overlooked or forgotten from the last fifty years. So I've decided to run a weekly feature highlighting "cult classic" albums of yesteryear. Hope you enjoy!

Album: Bored (Destroy All Monsters)
Cherry Red, 1999
Recording date: 1978-1979

Talk about your cult classics! Destroy All Monsters was formed in Ann Arbor in 1973 by a group of art students led by ex-model turned artist and singer Niagara and her boyfriend Cary Loren. None of the original members of the band were musicians and their highly avant-garde early years were spent jamming with records and then descending into chaotic noise rock when the record stopped. Their only shows were played guerrilla style - setting up uninvited at parties, etc. - and they were usually promptly ejected.

DAM's second era began in around 1977 when the band basically pestered Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Michael Davis of MC5 into joining. The addition of experienced rock musicians to the line-up was coupled with the explosion of the punk movement, the first scene edgy enough to connect with DAM's music. Combined, these factors moved DAM away from highly avant-garde performance art towards a more musical form of rock.

It was this greatly transformed incarnation of DAM that recorded the three singles featured on Bored. Asheton (always my favorite Stooge) uses his characteristic gritty guitar while Niagara sounds eerily like Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. And if sounding exactly like Sonic Youth in 1978 isn't being ahead of your time, I don't know what is.

Songs like "You're Gonna Die" spew the band's typical morbid nonsense, while others seem to hint at undecipherable political points. Despite its vast musical differences from the band's early work, Bored accomplishes the same thing - providing a raw and wry commentary on music, art and society. Punk is all about stripping rock to its barest bones and rebuilding it from scratch, but few bands have managed deconstruction to the same extreme as DAM. But for all its artiness, it comes down to this: Bored is a damn fun listen!

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