Friday, May 4, 2007

Barkmarket - Vegas Throat

Year: 1990
Genre: Noise Rock

Highlight Tracks: "Ditty", "Poverty", "Salvation", "Backstabbers"
Weak Track: "The Patsy"

The best parts of Vegas Throat are when Barkmarket really bring the noise. Which unfortunately usually only kicks in on the later half of most of their songs. The first half of most of their songs feature slow-building rock and weird lyrics that should be both entertaining and disturbing but really aren't much of either. I keep this album around because it is part of the history of my beloved noise rock genre.

Vegas Throat falls in the third tier of that genre however due mainly to the fact that Barkmarket don't convince me they are as depraved as they claim to be. Most of the vocal performance by John Nowlin feels like bad acting rather than actually insanity on display. The band do a great job with the plodding noise-crawls and climactic explosions but without a truly genuine singer the album falls short.

Noise Rock is one of my favorite genres and some of its best examples are on the Amphetamine-Reptile Records label. Most of the bands in that camp completely sell you on their fucked-in-the-head humidity and when they sing about torturing somebody in a shed you really think they did it. Not so with Barkmarket on Vegas Throat released on Rick Rubin's, Def American label.

That said there are some moments of brilliance tucked in between the community theater. The song "Ditty" is near perfect, a quick series of gut-jabs that really make you feel pummelled after its 1:46 run-time. "Poverty" sums up the best of the Barkmarket formula with a long intro of restrained noise that explodes into Nowlin's best vocal performance on the album. Finally "Salvation" is the noise-rock kicker that I was hoping the whole album would be back when I bought it so many years ago. The best song however is a cover of "Back Stabbers" which produces a bizarre performance from the entire band and is the one time they are really firing on all cylinders (oddly enough it is more a creepy atmosphere piece which makes me think maybe Barkmarket should have switched sound direction in their mission statement at some point).

The fact is that Barkmarket are a good band and their lyric writing is awesome. Unfortunately their execution is lacking (due to John Nowlin's vocals) which results in a very uneven album on which each song must be judged individually. Each song is such a weird mix of good and bad elements that it is hard to come up with a final tally tipping in either direction.


fint said...

Unfortunately you reviewed an early Barkmarket album. Vegas Throat is OK ... not that great ... but it already promises good things for future albums. I can say that in retrospect. Check out "Gimmick" , "Lardroom" ep and "L.Ron". Great albums.
By the way Dave Sardy is the main singer. John Nowlin only does one or two tracks every album. Always the weird collage tracks.

Element Operation said...

dude. you should contact me. you have good opinions obviously. i just found some new to me stuff, and i'm looking to spread the word, as well as listen to anyone with some tips. i make noise rock myself. element operation is the name. btw, i know jim thirlwell, tod a., dave sardy (sang with him a few times), gibby, yadda yadda yadda. i'm just saying i know what decent noise/noise rock is.