Thursday, September 28, 2017

Howl: A Quick Review Of The New Album From Pere Ubu

The new Pere Ubu album, 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo, drops tomorrow on MVD here in America. That it is a blistering slab of post-punk from the lot that very nearly invented that term, goes without saying. That David Thomas, shown in a pic from the band's tour-stop in D.C. last year above, is more on fire now than he was, perhaps, in the Eighties is something that also needs to be said. And as album opener "Monkey Bizness" roars out of the gate, a listener and long-time fan of this lot is grateful, again, for this band.

As "Prison of the Senses" whirls and twirls in the style of oldie "Birdies", a listener can appreciate how this outfit have managed to build on their rich legacy by continuing to offer music that pushes against the mainstream every second of their existence. "Toe to Toe" and "Swampland" churn, a peek or two inside the whirlwind, and I recall again how I first listened to this band because Husker Du referenced them in an interview some 30 years ago. I can understand the reference now as the bridge between punk and the avant-garde is here in grooves like these, just like it was in "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and "Final Solution" so very long ago. Elsewhere, "Howl" unspools some weird jazz as Thomas howls at the moon, while "I Can Still See" offers something that's beautiful and a bit eerie at the same time.

What's remarkable here on 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo is how this band, under the perennial leadership of David Thomas, manages to continue to push at the edges of established forms of alt-rock and its associated sub-genres. Thomas and his crew this time out -- Keith Moline (guitar), Gary Siperko (guitar), Kristof Hahn (guitar), Darryl Boon (clarinet), Robert Wheeler (synths), Gagarin (synths), Michele Temple (bass), and Steve Mehlman (drums) -- keep up the intensity as they pursue a singular, albeit noisy, muse. That Thomas has been inspired for so long is something I'm grateful for, as other loyal fans of this band have surely been as well. Full of both risky moments, and fairly conventional -- by Pere Ubu standards, at least -- ones, 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo crackles with a uniquely American energy, the sort of fiery out there-ness that musicians routinely reached some decades ago. Thomas, a legend, manages to keep this sort of thing fresh. And, it goes without saying, 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo perpetuates this band's fairly recent resurgence, their latest renaissance rollicking ahead at full tilt.

Out tomorrow on MVD, 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo is another notch in David Thomas' belt, and another borderline classic in the band's growing library of vitally abrasive music.

More details, as always, via

[Photo: me]