Artist: Guerilla Toss
Title Of Album: Smack The Brick
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: NNA Tapes
Genre: Avant-Garde, Alternative, Punk, No Wave
Total Time: 39:54
Total Size: 223 ?b
1. Smack the Brick 4:35
2. Be the Breeder 3:42
3. Etqueeny 3:35
4. Billy Blood Idol 4:43
For an album that sounds as haphazard and caustic as Gay Disco does, each instrument seems designed to play a very specific role. Eschewing a traditional sense of tunefulness, Guerilla Toss bring the back of the band to the fore, relying on Simon Hanes' skronked-out bass and drummer Peter Negroponte's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thrash to do most of the heavy lifting. Arian Shaifee's guitar (and Ian Kovac's synth work, for that matter) seems like an afterthought most of the time, operating like a sound effects machine rather than an object capable of creating melody (on "Operate", it calls to mind a wounded seal pup helplessly honking for its mother). But the most noteworthy instrument of all might be Kassie Carlson's vocals, that range between a tuned-up Kathleen Hanna and, as most are quick to notice, Molly Siegel of Ponytail. Despite how unintelligible her squawking might be, there's an invigorating brattiness that, in a small way, is welcomingly reminiscent of those now-defunct Baltimore art-punks.
If the title wasn't any sort of a giveaway, it's clear that Gay Disco is a record that encourages movement, no matter how spastic it may be. When Guerilla Toss find reliable stretches of groove, like on single "Pink Elephant" (an abrasive take on early Gang Gang Dance), it's easy to enjoy Gay Disco as a functional expression of wiggy, wild energy. Even the nauseous, acidic "Operate" feels tailor-made to accompany the undulations of a drunken marionette. But Gay Disco ultimately operates like a series of clumsily threaded distractions, constantly trying to prove its irreverence with vertigo-inducing tempo changes and abrasion for the sake of abrasion. Where a band like Ponytail were able to coax beauty, color, and catharsis out of the wreckage, Guerilla Toss' similarly clamorous approach registers as almost gimmicky.
Heralded for their energetic live shows, it's likely Gay Disco translates much better in person, able to finally make good on its intent to be simultaneously punchy and debilitating. But in the comfort of your own headphones, it's migraine-inducing even at a half hour, a record that should be the furthest thing from your reach even during the mildest of hangovers. To say that it's all a bit much would be an understatement, but neglecting to embrace that on some level would be to miss the point entirely. And still, something here registers as hollow, as Gay Disco is more a test of patience than an example of eccentric fun.