Marijuana Deathsquads: Oh My Sexy Lord Review
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Looking back at the posts we’ve done about Marijuana Deathsquads over the years, their new LP Oh My Sexy Lord feels like a culmination of sorts. Not an end, mind you, but a closing of a first act. From awesome Art-A Whirl shows to Daytrotter to freaking out the Minnesota Institute of Art, the group have centered their existence around being one the most badass live acts (locally or otherwise). But up until recently, even when the released material, it felt more like a “project” than a “band/group.” You might see four drummers (Dosh!) or special guests (Sean Tillman!), but it always was within the context of letting off steam in one-off fashion. You may hear one “song” for 20 minutes, or it could be more focused set, but it always felt like you had to be there. Lately, the spontaneity has given way in sorts, starting first with the great Totally Gross National Product comp highlight “John Cage Match” and really ramping up with the Music Rocks I & II EPs they released for free earlier this year. So does the fact that we can almost make out what Issac Gale is screaming and the songs seem to have rock-solid arrangements change who and what Marijuana Deathsquads are? Maybe, but for someone like myself who feared it would defang this rabid monster, their new TGNP release Oh My Sexy Lord puts those concerns to rest with 11 bombastic and exhilarating songs.
Fans have heard two great songs from the record, the serene (for MDS) “Ewak Sadness” and the more amped up “Vibrant Beast.” These songs are the gateway drug to Oh My Sexy Lord, and once they rope you in, you’re hooked. There isn’t a weak spot on the record, with standouts including tracks “8 9 3,” which sounds like a more demented Holy Fuck and the controlled, manic chaos of “Crosstown Crippler” and “Bas Boy Masterpiece,” which highlight the murky grooves that the band are giving ever so slightly more light of day. As they did on The River, the band step back a bit into a more ambient posture with songs like “Dissolve,” “Stacks” and “Sunglasses and Bail Money,” highlighting some pristine guest vocals and colorful electronic synth work. The lower intensity moments both serve to increase the impact of the sonic freakouts, but also give the listener some breathing room when they aren’t being pummeled with the bands high-octane, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink electro-punk that the collective jackhammer through your ears and down your spine. Instead of simply pummeling you, as they have the ability to do, the group seem to have concisely crafted an album that is a more varied experience.
Based on the early reception, it seems like Oh My Sexy Lord will be a first taste of Marijuana Deathsquads for a much larger audience. This record does indeed feel like a coming out party, a clear distillation of the amazing work these men and women have been creating here locally over the last couple of years. It is heavy, adventurous, fun, intimidating and wholly original. While it will never be possible to fully capture the lightening in a bottle of seeing their crazy live show, Oh My Sexy Lord comes about as close as this format is going to allow.
You can buy the record Tuesday from the folks at Totally Gross National Product.
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