We know that several of you (as many as 3) are eagerly awaiting this year’s worst local bands issue. However, since we are a non-commercial organization that doesn’t give a fuck what our gigantic audience wants and would rather just make fun of them and ourselves, before we release the results of what some of you (we’ve gotten about 40 so far) think, we’re going to be the assholes we are and endorse who WE want to win.
Friends, Capital District scenesters, college kids and graduates who will only be here for a few years and then move back to the City or hipsters moving on to Portland, the truth is, our area doesn’t deserve Scum Couch. The readers of this particular super-hip avant-garde underground blog aside, our region’s ‘rock’ music (for lack of a better or newer term, since we generally deal in ‘bands’ that play ‘guitars’ and ‘drums’ or ‘synths’ and ‘drum machines’) is defined by 3 general categories; straight/traditional punk and hardcore (tough guy music), indie rock/pop (artsy hipsters and intellectuals), and minor league corporate rock wannabes (3 martini state workers and divorced/separated parents just looking for ‘fun after work!’).
This publication seeks to speak to a shadowy (though increasingly large thanks to a couple of local promotion companies that shall remain nameless — just kidding SUPERDARK SHOUTOUT!!!!) 4th group that is generally ignored by larger publications that actually make money (unless they’re friends or relatives of the writers or somehow got their attention the one night their music critic actually went out to see new bands). This group is a melange of rock, noise, experimentalism, and in general, original, unique, eclectic music creators and appreciators.
And that is where Scum Couch, for the past year in particular, has outshined those of us that thought we were the coolest underground noise makers. Mark O’Brien, the talented genius behind Scum Couch, has a way of blending the most effective parts of the past 40 years of noise rock, experimentalism, improvisation, straight noise music and most likely a bunch of really intellectual academic John Cage type stuff (that we really don’t know that much about and have never honestly listened to ourselves b/c we really like to listen to stuff like the Beatles and Nirvana too much and come on, we’re just being honest here…) into something that is often transcendent, always entertaining, and unique as fuck.
Everything Scum Couch records, though seemingly often entirely improvisational (much like the so-called lo-fi genre) is completely filled with only the specific sounds that are called for, the instrumentation that’s necessary, and the harsh, sarcastic and cynical vocals and lyrics that are called for to be appreciated by the disaffected, bored, and restless underground of the day that only seems to be growing further and further from commercial pop, never to be joined again.
Furthermore, Scum Couch completely disabuses any listener of the notion that anything it creates could ever be or is in any way seeking to be generally popular or saleable. Perhaps the most important barometer for those of us that genuinely appreciate left field experimental music is; could this ever be co-opted? Could this ‘music’ ever be in a car commercial?
Unless our entire society undergoes a completely radical transformation soon, the answer is, for Scum Couch, a definitive no. No to commercial co-optation. No to traditional band structure. No to traditional rock music or instrumentation. No to narrative structure, no to ballads, no to anything resembling what’s been on the radio in the United States throughout its history.
And yet the talent behind the project is unmistakeable. So many artist/musicians try to achieve a similar sound or record like, say, 2016’s ‘Weak Existence’ without anything near the level of success. This is noise. This is music. This is dreadful. Unlistenable. Brilliant.
And if there were any question of O’Brien’s self awareness as a talented anti-artist, anti-musician, which is often the highest definition of high art and pretention, his 2018 recording is titled ‘Contrived’, and the previous release of 2017 was titled ‘Ignorant Bore’. Both brilliant pieces of noise collages and challenging instrumentation that titles itself in a self-deprecating manner, knowing that all art and whatsoever be it called ‘serendipitous’, ‘improvizational’, back to Surrealist ‘escritures automatique’, dada’s ‘Exquisite Corpse’, Impressionism’s ‘En Plein Air’..
Dammit Georges you Pretentious frenchman get the fuck out of here!
“Aww-hhah hah! I weel not apologizais! I weell take ma baguette and go, but you weell hear from mois aussi! Je mean again! Allons Eee!”
The point we were trying to make before we started sounding so much like pretentious twats even we needed to put an end to it (and that we think Mark O’Brian was with his title) is that anything that is said to be arrived at naturally and without artifice is a total lie. Everything that is put on the canvass or the record is, definitively, CONTRIVED.
And with that, we realize that this entire article has become overly pretentious in our effusive praise of the avant-garde sounds of Scum Couch TM. So much so that instead of the kind of deadpan tawdry humor this publication trades in, we’ve written what appear to be the liner notes next to a painting for a graduate project in art history or a very poorly written draft piece for an application for New York Times art section writer. We had another 20 paragraphs on conceptual art and musique concrete, but we really don’t honestly understand much of that shit and just like to rock out with a little pseudo-intellectualism and pretention. Not too much.
Yeah, we suck. And so does Scum Couch. So much so, that, if we had our druthers, they would win the ‘worst local band’ award for 2019. Because they’re so fucking good it’s like they come from a completely different world than the Capital District, a world where tough guy hardcore doesn’t compete with college radio friendly indie pop and pseudo corporate rock for after hours state workers and normal radio listening parents for the biggest slice of the tiny live music going audience.
Scum Couch isn’t looking for our vote. Scum Couch earned it. Long may they offend our ears, our tastes, and our notions of what ‘music’ is and should be! Long may they show a new generation of Capital District underground noise artists the way forward, a way without interest in monetary remuneration, a way without looking to be big and pretentious on the scene by standing on stage and pretending to be better than everyone by just looking at them instead of making music, a way of making intelligent music not out of a desire get laid (because they don’t play football or make enough money to go to Republican fundraisers), a blah blah blah blah blah we love you Scum Couch! Don’t ever change!
Hopefully next week we’ll put together the results of our actual survey for worst local band and you’ll be happy to see YOUR band or whatever band YOU voted for. But today is for our pick Scum Couch, because we hold you all in contempt, because you can’t appreciate what’s right in front of you! We hate you all so much!
Just kidding. We love our audience! See you next week when hopefully you’ll actually read!
FYI this was actually a very difficult decision to make. White Devil and the 666 and Blood Blood Blood were being heavily considered for our endorsement, however, we’re guessing they did better in the larger poll and therefore wouldn’t want or appreciate our lame personal endorsements.
And now, each of our writer/editors would like to make a personal note of appreciation for Scum Couch;
Scott Koenig: We love you! Stay cool! Stay cool forever!
DJ THINK NOISE: Nobody else knows shit about shit! You make us old timers and our deep, torturous, forgettable local history proud!
Monty Cantsin: Art! Pretention! Artifice! Noise! Rock! Whatever it is you do, we love it! Keep on doing it!
Stephen Connick: Have a gr8 summer!
Nenee Tartaulus: I just came back to get my stuff. What’s going on here?
Anatoly Petronin: I do not vote for you. Sirsy forever!
Georges Robert: I geeve you stinky french kisses! Aw-hah haa!
Errr, just as a note we had to invent some writers and add some new ones because most of our other writers from more famous areas of the scene/bands didn’t want to contribute cause they, are, uh, mad at us for not writing about their band. Ok they’re mad at us for writing about their band too much. And not being funny. And sending them messages on Facebook late at night when we’ve drunk too much about how cool they are and why can’t we be that cool and what kind of pickups does your guitars have and can we be friends IRL at the mall tomorrow…