I’ve encountered a lot of terrible music in my two-and-a-bit decades of life, and some of the more artful and interesting among these trainwrecks I am chronicling in this series of blog posts.
Today, however, I am lucky to present for my dear readers what may be a unique event in the history of Terrible Music; two terrible acts, both alike in dignity, that share the same name!
The first Attila is an Atlanta, Georgia based hardcore band. Currently signed to Artery Recordings, they are a perfect summation of what’s wrong with hardcore. Check out the lyric video for their song Nasty Mouth (fair warning, this is pretty bad hardcore, it’s extremely crass, and more than a little misogynistic):
Normally I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise but I felt that earned a disclaimer. Not only is it thoroughly uninspired hardcore, it seems like when they were writing lyrics, they made a conscious decision to trade coherence for vulgarity and objectification.
I like my girls like I like my coffee/ cream and sugar/ and a big round ass
This extract might be one of my favourite things. It’s rather impressive to come up with a simile where the adjectives don’t actually coherently describe either object in question.
I feel it’s important to point out that I willingly listen to enjoy death metal and grindcore, so it’s not like I’m easily offended by lyrics, but Attila seemingly have no sense of humour or irony about what they’re saying.
Always searching for that missing void!
So for all of my life, I’ve been a simple kind of guy,
Just try’na make it through time and not overlook another dime,
I will swallow my pride and promise to only tell the truth
Okay, this sort of introspection is a little out of place, and while they are still awful lyrics, at least it’s not quite as crude-
But every man can get down on a fat ass!
…ah. Never mind.
This style, known as brocore (though this term seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years) from its adherents’ party-hard woman-hating attitude, is related in some respects to crunkcore, but where crunkcore actively assimilates the electro sounds of southern hip hop as well as its lyrical themes, brocore seems just to share the obsession with partying, drug abuse, and misogyny. In many ways it could be seen as the successor to Limp Bizkit’s brand of nu-metal.
Why am I including this on a list of terrible music I supposedly like? Well, I have to admit that I’m terribly fond of how utterly ridiculous the whole thing is. Is this meant to be party music? Do people actually listen to brocore at parties? The lyrics and the music just don’t belong together at all – Lil Jon tells ladies to put their asses on the floor all the time, but the message sounds even sillier when it’s delivered with hardcore vocals. As I pointed out above, it’s almost too incoherent to not love – coffee can’t have a big round ass, silly Attila. It’s so daft that it’s compelling.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as I can go in my defense of this Attila: their other songs don’t quite have the same incompetent charm to them, instead being just full of tryhard tough-guy posturing, angry emotional declarations a twelve year old would find embarrassing, and of course the ever-present misogyny.
No we move onto the other Attila of my Terrible affection:
This bizarre yet entertaining piece of psychedelia is the work of a New York based duo from around 1969-70, formed by the union of drummer Jon Small and organist/vocalist Billy Joel.
Yep. The very same.
Online references for this are pretty thin, but it seems to be widely agreed that Joel later (or possibly at the time) dismissed Attila as “psychedelic bullshit” and that their only release has been described as “the worst album released in the history of rock & roll.”
I feel they need to defended here. It’s not that bad. I could probably come up with a list of albums in every decade since then that are far worse than Attila (look up about six paragraphs, for starters). It is however, damned weird. I’ll admit to a certain bias – it’s late 60’s psychedelic hard rock! It’s like Iron Butterfly was just a two-man operation and one of those men is Billy Joel! So of course it’s already won me over in concept.
So to define exactly what we’re talking about here: I like Attila, and while I think it was a bit weird and misguided, I also think it was adventurous and ultimately a bit cool. But this is all positive stuff, and that is not what My Taste in Terrible Music is about ! The final song from the album, the above Brain Invasion, is pretty bad though, yet compelling in a way that makes it perfect for MTiTM.
The song is a complete mess; the various sections trip over each other without any real development, and some reappear for no clear reason. It’s almost like a bucket of riff ideas rather than a properly composed instrumental. A lot of them are pretty dull ideas, besides, which may explain the lack of development – there’s nothing there to develop. As an instrumental, it of course lacks Billy Joel’s powerful voice (part of what makes the rest of the album so good).
Why do I like this track ? Well, it’s so nearly lots of other things that are good. 0.58 – 1.28 could easily be boss music from a Final Fantasy game, and at the two-minute mark the drums provide us with what may be the first recorded blastbeat in rock history. It just sort of rolls along amicably, being a bit rubbish but faintly charming.
For those of your who are interested: here is the entire 1970 self-titled release by this strange and short-lived band. The reason behind their breakup is worth recounting; after the record was a commercial flop, and their shows were apparently too loud for anyone to comfortably attend, Attila decided to call is quits… after Jon Small discovered Billy Joel was having an affair with his wife.
So there we have it. Two silly bands, sharing what’s a moderately good band name at best, utterly unalike in their output, and both in their own way appealing to my taste in terrible music.