Botox Rats/Durban Poison – [Single]

Monday, 24 September 2012

It's funny to see how punk rock has mutated over the last few years, and look at what it has become. Since (just say, for the sake of argument) 2008, the genre has really seemed to both regain its identity in some communities, but become far more diffuse in others – but the results have always been mixed, regardless. In the case of OFF!, for example, hardcore punk has proven it can still be a virile force to be reckoned with – and it doesn't have to get melodic or compromise one single thing to do it. By the same token, punk institution Epitaph Records has seemed to be very focused on blanching its once-lauded roster, and diluting it with as much metal, pop and electronic shlock as its supporters can manage, and  once-scruffy, now major-label reprobates The Gossip have cleaned themselves up and made themselves look pretty for their most recent Joyful Noise. All of those movements have been very bold turns that many punks have found it difficult to get behind and it's easy to understand why – punk rock used to be simple, direct and desperate street poetry which anyone could make. It was usually broke and rarely was it socially refined. It came off the street – so where'd it go?

As it turns out, punk – from the street, not the boardroom – still exists, you just have to look for it. It's still broke too; that's why Botox Rats and Durban Poison had to pool their money and make a 7” single together; it wasn't much, but they'd have one side each to make a mark. One side each; one song each. Street rules – hungry, desperate and hopeful.

As it turns out, punk from the street DOES still rule as this international pair of bands proves. Here, there's not a lot of common ground between the bands other than the slime from the street stuck to their shoes, but the mix sounds pretty damned good.

On the A-side, Botox Rats work some practical magic with their track, “Practical Magic.” Playing like they just rolled out of a New York City gutter because they got a gig supporting Dick Manitoba, the Rats squeal their way through three and a half minutes of filthy fury; the guitars rock with wild abandon and the vocals squawk like David Yow with an absinthe hangover. This is, simply said, street punk at its finest.

Far less fine but still worthwhile in a “guilty pleasure” sort of way is “Whore Of Babylon” by Victoria, BC-based slummers Durban Poison. “Whore Of Babylon” is a textbook example of several wrongs making a right; playing with a far looser brand of mid-tempo punk than Botox Rats, guitarist El Kamino, bassist Adam Bomb and drummer Steph Shaker just sort of wander haphazardly together and eventually find a rhythm and groove for about three and a half minutes. On top of that less than steady footing, singer Matti Corvette works her way through a boozy lament of infidelity which pulls more thnan a few references from some good book or other before just sort of collapsing under its own weight. Were it left on its own, “Whore Of Babylon” would be a pretty pitiful chore of a song but, paired with “Loose Lips” as it is here, it actually works very, very well. The two songs make for a sort of “top of the buzz” and “end of the night” arc which is more satisfying together than either song could ever hope to be on its own.

…And that's the catch of this split single: listeners have no idea how good either band involved could really be on its own from this experience because both songs rely on each other so heavily here. Because of that, listeners will just have to roll the dice and buy another release from one band, the other or both to find out. Talk about a great sales tactic!



The Botox Rats/Durban Poison split single is out now. Buy it here , directly from Shake! Records.

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