PICK OF THE WEEK: Couch Slut put psyches to test with raw tales of abuse, blood on ‘…Rock ‘n’ Roll’

The album title “Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll” really has a sort of loose, fuck-it-all vibe to it, especially now that it’s summer, and no one can really have a lot of big adventures. But an album with that name sure sounds like one fun road companion, does it not? Music to keep you pumped and excited during the hot summer days. Then Couch Slut pull the rug out from under you, because you should know better.

Like all Couch Slut music, you’re not here to escape your troubles and have a good time. You’re getting the polar opposite of that experience because their music, especially what you hear on this, their third album, is uncomfortable to say the very least. The band delves into subject matter including mental abuse, drug use, underage prostitution, domestic violence, and plenty of other dark corners, with zero punches thrown, nothing held back, warts sliced open to ooze in front of you. The band—vocalist Megan O, guitarist/trumpet player Amy Mills, guitarist Kevin Wunderlich, bassist Kevin Hall, and drummer Theo Nobel—plaster you with noise, glass-shard riffs, strangeness, abrasiveness, and vocals that refuse to let you off the hook and ensure each ounce of pain is absorbed over and over again. And it all ends with a true story where it’s a miracle everyone lived to tell the tale. The album is available now to purchase by download and has been since May, but we’re on the verge of the physical release, hence why we’re writing about this record now.

“The Mouthwash Years” kicks off with the band’s trademark noise and trudging guitars as things get whipped into a frenzy in a hurry, and Meg’s vocals start peeling at your skin. The pace pummels as she sneers, ” Now you’re dried out, what do you want for it?” as the track ends in sludge and your ears lacerated. “Carousel of Progress” is speedier and wastes no time starting the bruising as killer guitars swelter, and Meg wails, “Yeah, it’s a gag, I know it’s on again, I didn’t want it,” as the track barrels into muscle, with drum spurts taking things to its end. “All the Way Down” charges up with the bass leading the way and the guitars sweating up a nasty swagger. The tale is horrifying, complete with blood in a sink, terrible events going on behind a bathroom door, and Meg calling out, “Pieces of flesh in the sink, I can’t take anymore,” before the song finally has mercy on you. “The Stupid Man” is a harrowing tale of a man stealing drugs, pissing in ovens, and being a threat to murder, oddly given a rather hypnotic backing at times that lets the words drive the panic. “My head wasn’t there, was not there at all, his mind wasn’t there, piece of shit addict,” Meg rails as the band hits a doomy swell that feels uncomfortable and eventually slams shut, as footsteps walk away.

“In a Pig’s Eye” already is relentless when it starts as hard shrieks pulsate, and the story is one where the woman, having been assaulted, is questioned about her motives. “They wanna know, they asked if I’m a whore,” Meg howls as the cops print her car and basically provide no help, only adding to the vitriol in the song. “I hope they’re fucking dead now,” she blasts while the band backs her with bone-stripping, noisy thrash. “Topless and Bottomless” has the guitars slamming you with a punk-fueled vibe, the vocals smothering, and Meg taunting, “You can’t even fuck a doll.” The playing drives a hole in the ground as the piss and fury continue to build, with Meg mocking, “Take it easy like a desperate fuck,” as the track boils out in noise. “I’m 14” is a tale of cocaine, secretly pierced clits, and sexual favors under the influence of drugs, all involving a teenager. The calculated vocal delivery makes sure you absorb every bit, squirming as the guitars strangely dream, and Mills’ trumpet flutter through as everything crashes down, but not before the song is twisted into the 1987 film “The Gate,” an end I did not see coming. “-” is a quick gateway track, driven by Wiley DeWeese’s piano playing that leads to closer “Someplace Cheap” that is a true story that happened to Meg and her previous bandmates when they decided to tour and ended up in Ohio. I don’t want to give away the entire thing, but let’s say it involves bikers, people being unknowingly drugged, those people waking up to realize they were jerked off over on camera, and a fucking amazing threat for the people who drugged them as to where they could find them so revenge could be had. Meg literally speaks the story over the band’s slurred guitars, pummeling drums, and humid pitch that gets heavier as the story gets scarier, only coming unhinged at the very end. Scary as hell. Glad they’re all alive.

As noted, you should not be fooled by the record’s breezy album title because what you find upon cracking it open are sobering, bloody, horrifying events that really happen to women and that are bluntly delivered in devastating detail. Caution always should be used when approaching a Couch Slut record (though it’s utterly vital these stories are shared), but assuming some newer folks are along for the ride, it just helps to reiterate. That all said, this is a killer record delivered by a tornadic force of a band, and it’s one of the year’s most jarring, unforgettable albums to be sure.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/couchslut/

To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/take-a-chance-on-rock-n-roll

For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/