Hoarse Lords

Clipd Beaks

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Hoarse Lords Review

by Stewart Mason

Now that the post-punk revival has started winding down, it's up to new bands to start exploring deeper into the sub-sub-genres of rock & roll's past for new ideas. As a result, California's Clipd Beaks take as their starting point the meeting point between the artier, more conceptual end of progressive rock and punk's D.I.Y. aggression that led to bands like This Heat, very early Scritti Politti, the Homosexuals, and much of the late-'70s roster of Chris Cutler's Recommended Records label. From the cover image of an anonymous photo from an old porn magazine mutated into a creepy Dada montage to the deliberately off-putting sounds within, Hoarse Lords is pretty tough sledding. The nine lengthy songs ring minimal changes on one basic theme: prominent bass and drums overpowering near-atonal keyboards, guitars, and tape loops, with Nic Barbeln's moaned, wailed, and sighed vocals buried in the very back of the mix for maximum lack of clarity. The reason it works is that Clipd Beaks aren't interested in noise for its own sake: for all the seeming randomness of songs like "We Will Bomb You (We Will)," the band never devolves into aimless free-form honk-blat-phwee in the manner of noise rock contemporaries like Sunburned Hand of the Man. Indeed, there are moments on Hoarse Lords, such as the closing "Let It Win" and the brief hidden instrumental track that follows, that approach a strange kind of beauty.

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