Something I enjoy about hearing certain albums by bands is being floored, or feeling like I’ve been brutally attacked by sound, wondering how could this be missing from my life for so long. I’ve never heard of them until now, but now I will become a devoted follower of a 1-man/1-woman powerhouse known as Lullabye Arkestra. When I first heard their music, I thought they were a four piece, and that their name was somewhat yin yang in nature. You know, a “lullabye” is soft and delicate, an “orchestra” is big, bold, and loud, although they spell it “Arkestra”, which brought to mind Sun Ra and his intergalactic adventures in Earth-bound sounds. That left me wondering what this could sound like.
I’m playing the album, and keep in mind I had no idea what they looked like or who made up this group. I heard a man and woman alternate vocals in each song, occasionally uniting in some tracks. What I hear are heavy, distorted bursts of metal and hardcore punk, I’m hearing shades of L7, Monster Magnet, Christ On A Crutch, and St. Vitus. The guitars are on the low-end, but as I move into the album a bit deeper, I realize “is this album just all bass guitar?”, with loud drums Some of these songs sound like ruthless battle cries, other sounds sound like having a kegger in hell. This isn’t Freedom Rock, this is more like extra-secluded rock not meant for outsiders, and everyone who is inside will have an incredible time. They go back and forth betweeen playing incredibly heavy, but aren’t around playing willy-nilly solos. Instead they prefer to do it punk rock style by playing a song, playing mindlessly, and then moving to the next track. One builds up a lot of energy during a song, only for the next one to start immediately so by the end of the album, you have to release that energy somehow.
It wasn’t until after listening to this album, when I was to look for an album cover scan, did I realize that Lullabye Arkestra are a duo, in this case vocalist/bassist Kat Taylor-Small and vocalist/drummer Justin Small. They are small but basic in the same sense that Jucifer are a 2-piece, but if you love Jucifer slothing around in their rich stoner metal gumbo, Lullabye Arkestra come off like the prankster sibling, the one with an itchy ass but there’s no wall corner to scratch out the relief. At the end of “This Is A Storm, Kat lets out one of the most wicked Roger Waters/Kelly Canary/Kim Shattuck screams I’ve heard in a long time, and the only thing one can say after that is “fuuuuuuuuuck”. In “Floating Graveyards” they turn the tempo down and grind in a sludgy fashion, with choir-like vocal harmonies that is a signal for LORD SATANA to enter the world. At the end, they completely switch to do a song that sounds like it could be done at a honky tonk. If you remember Best Kissers In The World‘s “Hungover Together”, it’s that type of song where you tell everyone “one last round” and head home, with vomit in your shirt or blouse.
Threats/Worship (Vice/TVT) is an album you put on, turn up very loud, and wait until you’re thrown out of your apartment or a cop pulls you over for violating city ordinances. It’s a spirit that I’ve always enjoyed, when punking it up doesn’t mean putting on sk8r boy clothes and going to the mall on Saturday to hang out at Old Navy. It’s ugly rock’n'roll the way it’s meant to be heard and played. A few of these songs have extra synth/keyboard elements that only helps to take songs to an elevated level, showing that they not only know how to have a good time, but they can be anthemic if they want.