O WHAT SHAME that such a plethora of unspeakably terrible and talentless bands have made a clumsy spectacle of themselves trying to pass their efforts off as punk! Such history and offshoots—loud (C), emotive (R), whiny (A), fashionable (P)—have only served to inform B.F.E. what the word represents and means for those who know it, live it, and be it. Can I say honestly and unabashedly that I know it, live it, and be it in a proper and deserving way? Can you? For real? Let ye who is truly punk cast the first stone at those who apply the term to posturing and outfitting themselves as though donning costumes, profaning all that should be of that most holy, dreaded name: PUNK!
Portland band ...worms are punk. Punk in the purest and most basic way. More punk, perhaps, than so many bands that preceded them and gave the term its legs on which to stand and kick and stomp its way to peak, deformity, and ruin. This band takes a thing, reduces it to its most horrible and gorgeous core, and makes it new in doing so. It's what punk should be. Here it is. Do you doubt? Go and see.
The group is made out of four people: Davis Lee Hooker (A John Henry Memorial, the Watery Graves of Portland), Matt Genz, Sam Humans (Modernstate), and Scott Sloan. With this rich musical background, it's no surprise just how good ...worms is, how much they clearly know what they're doing. Because the most important trait the band has, whether you add the suffix "–core" to the end of it or not, is art. They are artful. This is art.
On their new album, a self-titled follow-up to their self-titled 7-inch, the last track on side A is an instrumental version of the first song on side B; the last song on side B is an instrumental version of the first track on side A. The idea calls to mind James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, which begins with the second half of the sentence with which the novel ends. Also not unlike Joyce's work, the album's lyrics often contain a smart vulgarity and a fondness for the eccentrically comic. Although mostly indecipherable through Hooker's screeching, convulsive delivery, jewels like "such a lovely face/I want to kick it in like a deflated basketball" or "quit your fussin' and do too much tussin' with me" manage to capture one's attention, at very least, on the lyrics sheet. Other lines like, "there's not enough dead animals for the tsar" and "at the top of the mountain there's a god caught in a bear trap and he's gnawing off his arm" betray more thought than one might necessarily expect from seeing a live performance or even hearing the album a handful of times.
Clearly, though, the lyrics take a backseat to the overall energy. The band, both live and recorded, is like some kind of brilliant seizure. Get really drunk and eat a whole bag of sugar and you'd probably be somewhere in the vicinity of what the band exerts in raw force. Seeing Davis wallow on the floor and cry out like a Velociraptor while his bandmates churn forth strangely beautiful dissonance may seem pretty crazy, and rightly so. But it's real. It's punk. It's theirs.