In Rotation

In the Mix is a monthly column of reviews of albums by musical artists local to the Reno area. To submit an album for review consideration, send a physical copy to Brad Bynum, Reno News & Review, 708 N. Center St., Reno NV 89501 or a digital link to
The record release party for Big Remote’s Jenkins. is Sept. 29 at Reno Art Works, 1995 Dickerson Road.

Of course, dirty jokes can be great. We here at the Reno News & fucking Review will be the first to tell you. But sometimes it’s just not enough. With the greatest practitioners of obscenity, from Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor or Louis CK to the Geto Boys, Kool Keith or, closer to the mark, the Dead Kennedys, lowbrow humor is a path to some sort of insight. Or, at the very least, it’s very, very funny. If you’re going to write poop jokes, your shit better be too solid to flush.

Slut Fungus, a Carson City band, isn’t funny enough to redeem its slight, rudimentary punk rock. Over basic punk 101 guitar, drums and bass, vocalist Rev. Paw sneers puerile, mostly indecipherable verses before the choruses, which are usually group chants, like “Abominable twat! That’s what you got! Abominable twat! It beats jacking off!” in a song called, you guessed it, “Abominable Twat.” Or, the “Ode to the Marquis” chant: “We eat! We shit! We fuck! We kill! And we die!” (“But which marquis?” you might well ask. And if the frequent sexual references left any doubt, the scatological obsession verifies it: It’s the indefatigable S of S&M fame.) Classy stuff.

The band is clearly proud of its poor taste. The outer sleeve of the CD just has the band’s name and album title and an “explicit content” warning. The inside cover is a crude—in every sense of the word—drawing of a devil sitting on a toilet with a woman’s head between his legs. Each copy also comes with a single sheet of toilet paper.

You’d have to be kind of pompous not to laugh a little at some of this stuff, but it’s just not funny enough to justify its existence. Even though the album keeps up a brisk pace that covers 14 songs in 31 minutes, it’s a hard slog to get through.

Whatever appeal this music might have, and it does have some, it has nothing to do with being good. It’s terrible by design, and therefore inherently hostile to any sort of critical evaluation, and wholly deserving of our lowest rating.

Big Remote’s album Jenkins. provides a Neil Young-like mix of barroom country-rock and fuzzed-out guitars. It’s Americana with touches of out-there guitar, sort of reminiscent of Wilco. The group, which includes Eric Foreman on bass, Stephen Larkins on guitar, Don Morrison on drums, and Jon Cornell on keyboards, has a knack for catchy tunes. All the band members sing.

The group writes strong melodies. There are strains of ’80s REM; poppy, radio-friendly ’90s alt-rock, like Everclear or The Refreshments or something; and a bit of ’70s California singer-songwriter stuff, like Warren Zevon; and even a hint of the edgier side of Britpop, like the Wedding Present. At its heart, this music is American, and the strongest tracks are the most country ones, like “Hanging by a Thread.” The album doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, but it’s all enjoyable, accessible and well crafted—and poppy and familiar enough to worm pleasantly into the ear.