Boston’s most at large underground music unit is BACK AT IT. And things have changed for this bunch who we’ve known since they were, oh, “yay high.” A new line up, two members departed (Ian & Simon), two gained to fill the void (Toby & Pat). Instrumentation remains the same, as does the noisy, groove filled approach that we have learned to call GUERILLA TOSS. Noise rock, and post-punk, are two of more commonly found terms that have been thrown around to describe this band. Surely I’ve used such descriptors myself. They’re not wrong, but even from the very beginning GUERILLA TOSS has been slinking away (to the beat) from any sort of easily definable rock, or punk music making. SMACK THE BRICK arrives at a potential turning point for the band, and while the sounds are fresh as hell, I’m not sure that there’s actually any turning happening. I hear a continuation that can be charted across the course of this Boston band’s last few releases. An emerging freedom to let their syncopated freak flag fly. A growing overt-ness in getting groovy, and allowing a funk to flow. Such moves could be disastrous, except that each of the musicians who plugs in before the start of each GUERILLA TOSS set have their straight up nasty craft honed. Doesn’t hurt that Pete is the ringleader from the throne, and that Kassie, out front, is a freaking force of nature with few contemporary parallels.
This band brings so many different approaches and rhythmic blueprints to the table, funneling each one through their own unique D.I.Y./ punk/ underground filter. Never veering. Continually exciting. I’ve read dismissals of GUERILLA TOSS calling them an out of step further retread of the post-punk and/ or noise rock retread of the late 90s on through the early 2000s. But that just doesn’t make any sense. Being old enough to have actually been going to such shows in the early 2000s I can honestly say that I can’t remember any band at all like GUERILLA TOSS. I’ve heard many noisy rhythmically oriented bands over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard trained musicians get rhythm & punk attitude so right @ the same time. I know and love these people, but I can also say that their music is objectively exciting, and worth checking out every time something new comes along.
SMACK THE BRICK is a slight cassette being released by New England’s own (Burlington, VT) NNA TAPES. New synth player Toby even happens to be one half of the team that runs that great label. Wild rhythms are on the loose here. If you aren’t careful you may just wind up jumping clear out a window while getting into the weird fun to be found within these tape cases (close your damn windows! it’s November anyway. jeez.). I’m into the whole lot of songs found here but I must admit that I’ve always really FELT it when GTOSS goes the slow groove route. And they have rarely done so more compellingly than on the opening track that shares a name with this tape, “Smack The Brick.” The opening groove is a loping G-FUNK concoction; bass and drums giving and taking, everything else framing Kassie’s easy and piercing flow. But of course the band can’t stay put, even while holding in their arms a groove as laid back and eternal as the one they start this off with. Before all is said and done skronking guitars and a bevy of ethereal synthesizers lay strewn across the track’s landscape. Up to this point I’d say that here we have the apex of the GTOSS urban noise rock trajectory. The true beauty of this really great band is their ability to remain scuzzy, to “keep it real” and whatnot, while essentially bringing anything they damn well please into the swirling vortex that is their music. GUERILLA TOSS is on it. As always, can’t wait to hear what comes next.
GUERILLA TOSS plays BOSTON HASSLE FEST 6 on friday 11/7 @ Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA. See them off as they head to Europe!