DECAYCAST Reviews: STRAIGHT CRIMES “Jams, With Microphone, 2017” (Fine Concepts, 2017)
“Jams, With Microphone, 2017” is the newest sonic offering from bay area punks Straight Crimes. This cassette is toted under the “punk” category on band camp and other agents of the internet however stretches pretty far past that on this album delving between slow, heavy sludgy cuts where could easily faintly resemble an early Big Black or Butthole Surfers, which thick fuzzed out guitars, monotone style yelped vocals, heavy drum machined percussion, and thick, dense, cavernous spaces of spearing electronics. The duo doesn’t stick to a particular style on this release bur one of their own, which is refreshing to the ear and psyche. While it does have many “punk” qualities to it, composition wise, things really get stretched and scratched to the max, such as on the ten minute anthem, “Is This Hell Or Is This Dumb” the vocals and meat and potatoes of the track don’t make an appearance for nearly six minutes as the listener is left in a murky, dark, disorientation of jabbed and beaten guitars, harsh alienating feedback, high tension style sound the alarm ringing and buzzing as the listener marches towards a future of confusion and uncertainty.
As the song pulses on the listener is even LESS SURE of themselves than they were in the beginning and we all must hope to answer the question by the end of the bass swells that check the situation in the innards and slowly build to a crescendo of chaos. “Jams With Microphone, 2017” is absolutely as much of a heavy abstract, even “noise” record than it is a “punk” record as can be much more easily stated for previous S C releases, though the heavy, pummeling track “In a Free Pile” is perhaps the album’s most accessible and straight forward song, while still boasting thick percussion, a tonal heavy dirge out guitar, sludgy bass lines and walls of noise which add sharpness to the overall throbbing beat, perhaps the strongest cut on the album. Tracks such as “The World Does Not Care About My Art Like Every DAY” show a more abstract and experimental side to the act, with this nearly eleven-minute feedback and vocal based offering, which peaks and swells through various sonic landscapes with the continuity of well executed guitar feedback leading the listener through this dark, murky, sweaty tunnel out to the dejected other side. This is a really refreshing release overall, and look forward to hearing more of this band, and everything else via their imprint, FINE CONCEPTS, longtime Oakland stalwarts.