Terry Malts – “Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere”

Lee says if you know The Ramones, that’s a good starting point for understanding Terry Malts.

Lee Fowler

8.5
out of 10

Terry Malts
Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
September 10, 2013
Slumberland Records

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior! The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Punk rock is unrelenting, interminable forward progress. No one lingers in punk rock. Not good punk rock, at least. One song ends in a live set. The next one starts. There are no wistful, nostalgic punk songs. The Ramones may have reached back to the past trying to craft a perfect pop song, but they did it with a bratty middle finger and slouched away in the other direction. In fact, the Ramones are a good starting point for understanding Terry Malts (and probably just about every other punk band on earth). Of course, Terry Malts is not a he; it’s a they. And in Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, these gentleman propel themselves forward as only punk rockers can.

The Ramones always seem complacently un-self-aware. They proceeded, not from overwhelming passion or purpose, but from an overwhelming sense that there was nothing else to do. Might as well play some punk rock. Throw in enough melody to sell it, play fast, and you’re out. Terry Malt, likewise, is not outraged or political. The skuzzy guitars and loose arrangements lurch through a sitcom-length sequence of tracks full of apathetic charm, but short on substance. As it should be, of course. No use sacrificing deadpan, disaffected vocals and a wild, distorted romp on the altar of life-changing lyrics. Joey Ramone sings, “I don’t wanna grow up,” and Phil Benson sings “I don’t wanna go to work no more” with equal noncommittal resignation on the opening “Two Faces.” Similarly, on the third track, it’s hard to tell if “living with the human race” is a rallying cry for progress or call for hermitage. They’re committed to plowing through it either way. As Longfellow’s protagonist might say, “Excelsior!”

The album’s mantra might well be the between-track banter that says, “I don’t care if it’s all gonna fall apart tomorrow, I don’t remember yesterday, this is what we’re doing now.” And with that, “No Tomorrow” screeches and chugs out of the station, never looking back. “Comfortably Dumb” is just that, an acoustic guitar sketch of a punk song-to-be accompanied by squealing feedback, a distant distorted guitar, and a mercilessly shaken tambourine. There is no reprieve before the last note of “Well Adjusted” fades from your buzzing speakers. Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere may not have time for breath, but it does have time for melody, notably in tracks like “Buy Buy Baby” and “The Feeding.” Indeed, their self-designated “chainsaw pop” is ever destroying and rearranging songs in a pleasingly melodic barrage of pummeled chords and wailing leads. Longfellow’s punk rock cry might well be mine: “Excelsior!”

-Lee Fowler, September 14, 2013
 

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