LET MíNUS SPOIL YOU
I am not cool, but it occasionally appears that way cuz my incidental awareness of cutting-edge music. There’s a simple reason for that, one which I share with tons of other fortunates out there: I have an older sibling. She’s cool. She dated cool guys. Those cool punk and alternative and goth guys stopped at nothing to get within sniffing distance of her bod; as such, most found it worthwhile to cultivate the kid-brother endorsement.
The astute dudes recognized that the way to my heart is through my headphones and funneled a lot of free tapes (!) and CDs my way. (One particularly smitten Doc Martens aficionado worked at local college radio and hooked me up with my own evening time slot when I was 15.) My sister and I hardly got along, so my input on her suitors was never solicited, much less heeded; I thank her for neglecting to mention this fact to all those hornballs whose awareness of interesting music exploded my horizons.
But this second-hand awareness also made me seem aloof and arrogant. Many times, a peer would breathlessly hip me to a hot new band of which I’d already been aware for years; so I came off like a cock when saying “I got into them three albums ago.” Other times, ostensibly groundbreaking artists thrilled everybody but me. Like when White Zombie broke in 1995 and the rockers in my class were all “Whoa!” while I couldn’t have hardly mustered a sniff at it. Cuz once you strip away the novelty of the movie samples and kitchy go-go horror movie vibe, Zombie’s music is wildly unspectacular (and presciently similar to Static-X). And if you’d already been exposed to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Ministry, then there is no novelty. No good jamz and no hook? No like and no care.
It sucked though, cuz my goal is to like stuff and to rock out with my buds. But Zombie wasn’t the last band whose appeal was inadvertently deflated for me. Back in 2001, I was blankly cycling through a Tower Records listening station when I came upon the then-new second Mínus album, Jesus Christ Bobby. It’s one of those records that writers dread describing cuz doing so makes you sound like a hard-on. Every riff is a winner, every hairpin turn a thriller; it’s catchy, screamy, melodic, and noisy as all fuck, too: There are moments where it sounds like a jetliner is in the process of crashing into the recording studio. The albums first and final acts rate among the best ever put to tape, its mid-peak is the thunderous “Frat Rock” (most cacophonous breakdown EVER). The BBC called it “one of the ten best albums of all time” and Kerrang’s 5K review named Mínus “the most important noise band to emerge in years.” Agreed!
But Jesus Christ Bobby spoiled me. I can’t help thinking that the last four Converge records greatly impacted non-Mínus fans, and JCB throws into sharp relief Dillinger Escape Plan’s ineptitude with dynamics, tempo-shifts, rote skronkisms, and alternating between singing and screaming. The whole situation is comparable to banging a supermodel once and then trying to get excited about the merely B+ girls in your neighborhood. Maybe that’s why they’re called Mínus.