If you think rock music is prone to audio clichés, you’ve got to concur that the same is true of the physical presentation of much of the product. Or, in layman’s terms: album cover art often blows, and so it’s really satisfying when something leaps out of the to-be-listened-to pile on the merits of its looks. Raucous Cardiff window-smashers Die! Chihuahua Die! have scored well with the art for their début album Bitch Songs – ol’ finger-beard there looks pretty freaky in a Jamie Hewlett kind of way, and reminds me of the artwork for We Are Above You by stonerish Cave In spin-off project Clouds, though I’ve got no artist details with which to credit or compare. Record label design executives, take note: let’s see more stuff like this, please, instead of gritty urban landscape photos or hyper-real Photoshop fantasy montages.
But enough of the packaging, and on to the contents. On the piece of paper in front of me, Die! Chihuahua Die! are described somewhat breathlessly as “a chaotic mix of riff heavy high energy garage rock influenced hardcore punk’n'roll”, and for once I can’t find fault with the press pitch (unless we’re going to talk about the urgent need for some hyphens in those compound pairs, but we’ll save that for the next meeting of the Grammar and Punctuation Pedantry Association, of which I am chairman and sole voting member in this constituency). The underlying aesthetic of Bitch Songs is amphetamine velocity and schizoid ranting, wild-eyed and backed into a corner, with a chair-leg in one hand and your mother’s purse in the other; furious, and maybe a little frivolous, but a whole lot of noisy dangerous fun. With song titles like “Stuck Pig”, “Action/Fuck/Action” and “Blow Goat”, you’ve got a good idea of what’s coming at you here; nine songs, twenty five minutes, four and a half gallons of sweat (yours and many other people’s).
To be less metaphorical about it, Die! Chihuahua Die! have a kinda compressed QOTSA guitar tone playing metallic hardcore’n'roll riffs, Stooges chord sequences and occasional bluesy lead licks beneath raging brawling vocals; the drumming has an angular funkiness to it, and is firmer than a freshly picked cantaloupe. Bitch Songs isn’t big, and it’s probably not clever either, but it’s good stuff – ferociously loud party music to drink beer and stagger about to. If they perform anything like they sound, I suspect the biggest problem Die! Chihuahua Die! will face is being banned from every venue they play, as said venues get smashed to pieces by the combined antics of band and crowd. And should they pass near enough to me next time they’re on the road, I plan to be right down by the front of the stage, wearing nothing but spray-on denim cut-off short-shorts and gleefully trying to grab the mic stand in order to throw it javelin-style at the bar staff*. Care to join me?
[ * Legal disclaimer - all acts of violence suggested by this review are entirely metaphorical, and should not be taken as indicative of the reviewer's usual behaviour in licensed music venues. Probably. ]