After a bevy of cherished singles, Columbus, Ohio's favorite inebriated sons turned out this spit-caked debut full-length. How it managed to find its way out on a major label is anyone's guess, but it nevertheless confirmed Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments' stature as one of the most excellent rock band's ever to drink and spew its way out of Cowtown's sloppy bars and subterranean clubs. Bait and Switch is punk rock at its snotty, anarchist best, music to both revere (the band was championed by none other than Thurston Moore) and revile (Ron House's cat-screech voice is an acquired taste, to say the least). Depending on where you're standing in the crowd, the album is either fingers on the blackboard or a perfect, thrilling sort of mess. Skanky, violent venues were built precisely for songs like "Is She Shy," "Quarrel With the World," "Negative Guest List," and "You Can't Kill Stupid," all of which hold their own next to the thrilling cover of "Cyclotron" from Cleveland punk legends the Eels. The music is every bit as polarizing and polemical as, say, Rage Against the Machine, but far more satisfyingly resonant and authoritative because its jibes are nondenominational and self-effacing. House mines his traditional obsessions (getting drunk, dissatisfaction, sex, getting drunk) with typically witty and curmudgeonly spite. But scrape off the first layer or two of vitriol, delve beneath all the bluster and sarcasm, and he is surprisingly candid about grave subjects like cancer and death. And if ever there was a deserved guitar hero (just listen to the metal-splintered stylings on "Down to High Street") it is the criminally unheralded Bob Petric. Aside from a "love" tune and the attempted atmospherics of "Contract Dispute" (let's be honest, the Doors TJSA is not), though, Bait and Switch finds the band pissing into the fire, and its fans would have it no other way.
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart