New York’s PALBERTA unveiled their deconstructionist post-punk last year with the abrasive and freewheeling My Pal Berta, covering a lot of sonic ground and showcasing an insular and experimental unit dabbling in everything from US Maple‘s fractured anti-rock to the eccentric pop leanings of Deerhoof and the mutant punk-funk of James Chance. Meanwhile, Boston’s own (NEW ENGLAND) PATRIOTS have been terrorizing our little town from the ashes of the inimitable ARVID NOE with manic prog-inflected noise-punk, alternately rocking and mystifying audiences. Their split release Special Worship, out now on Northampton MA’s Feeding Tube Records, is a fine introduction to each band’s brand of freak-punk.
PALBERTA’s bizarre humor and creative spirit is evident from their side of the split, which alternates between super-short outbursts and more intricate songs. Highlight “Susan” starts off with a gloomy, ominous bassline punctuated by short stabs of atonal guitar that get more twisted as the song moves along. The song reflects the half-confident/half-uncertain mantra of ‘When I go, I won’t be scared’ as it alternates between tranquility and paranoia in equal measure. What follows is the portrait of the titular Susan, which is hard to completely understand from listening. Oddly, the band chose to reveal lyrics to every other track besides the longest ones, “Susan” included. PALBERTA are certainly an unpredictable and unique force, one glued together by their members’ sense of adventure and commitment to the unconventional.
(NEW ENGLAND) PATRIOTS’ side of the split is covered in fuzz and feedback, as evident on “Queer”, a rollicking noisefest carried by singer Colby’s effected manic shouts. The song crashes headfirst into a storm of screeching feedback in its conclusion. “Ribbit Ribbit” is a decidedly more dynamic jam, starting off rather quietly with a bizarre snaky guitar lead, bringing to mind the aforementioned US Maple’s skewed perspective on rock music. Colby’s demented rambling shifts under an eerie vocal effect as the distortion kicks in on Luke Einsiedler’s guitar. After two swells of noise bridged by another quiet, vocal-driven moment, the song breaks into a freak-funk groove that cuts up at odd angles as the sharp attack of Colby’s unhinged utterings add to the increasingly abstract nature of this catchy, almost Beefheart-ian movement. There is a third equally awesome track “What About The Wild” that isn’t available to stream online that starts off paranoid, Einsiedler’s prickly guitar attack itching Colby’s neurotic demeanor, and eventually the song explodes into a sprightly fuzzed-out breakdown. You’ll have to buy this at one of their shows to hear that one.
The pairing of these two experimental punk groups couldn’t be more fitting, as they both display a playful idiosyncratic mentality to their noise-making and a tendency for violent outbursts and free-spirited energy. Look out for both of them as they’ll be actively tearing down expectations while tearing shit up on a TOUR NEXT MONTH.