A Journal Of The Dark Arts
You’re born. You go to school. You go to college. You get a job. You get married. You have a couple of kids. You buy a house. You wait to die.
There’s some who would have you believe that this plan is absolute. Any uattempt to colour outside the lines result in ostracization; condescending pity which eventually gives way to cold anger. Ideals and morality and ethics and rebellion are all right for the young, after all, they don’t know how the world works yet. You can forgive them for being a bit starry-eyed. But after a while, if you don’t want to work, or are content to do enough just to get by, if you get divorced or you don’t want kids, people start to talk. You will hear about it at EVERY family gathering, in every concerned phone call. People begin to look at you suspiciously, and you gradually become a pariah. It’s a modern day witch hunt, against those that would walk their own way, do their own thing. To their OWN selves be true.
Splittin’ Hares, the debut album from Lockport, NY’s 2Rabbit, is the sound of searching for something more, searching for some meaning in a post-industrial society. It’s like being on break at work, and dreaming of being somewhere else, doing something else, something that you like better, something that you don’t dread, that doesn’t eat yr soul like a cancer.
Splittin’ Hares kicks off with a cavalcade of rustbelt imagery, over a battalion of churning guitar riffs and martial drumming:
Go out past the smokestacks
The junkyards and the churches
Feel your forward progress
Impeded by a wall
Sit on the sidewalk
With your back ‘gainst the bricks
Very, very carefully
Kicking against the pricks
The album then goes on to question the “American Dream”, with “Autumn Leaves”, wondering if there is more to life than the best laid plans of mice and men.
Tell me how do you see the world?
is it covered with diamonds and pearls?
Is it everything you’d hoped it would be?
Is it everything you hoped and dreamed?
Somewhere in the autumn leaves.
As far and as wide as the eye can see
Yes, you’re questioning yr future.
“Autumn Leaves” goes on to answer those questions with a fast and furious acid-fried Hendrix solo, courtesy of lead guitarist Andy Swift. Swift’s flying fretwork, one of the highlights of 2Rabbit, just goes to show that people are not as easily predicted and controlled as the powers that be might like to imagine. That we won’t, in fact, go gentle into that good night.
Splittin’ Hares goes on to investigate other aspects of the working class condition: disastrous relationships (“Second Chance”), hard drinking women (“Jenny Loves Tequila”), loveless marriages (“Gay Neighbor”), and some good old-fashioned storytelling, in the woozy and unsettling carnival romp drinking song “Clever Hans”, that sounds like Tom Waits’ “Poor Edward” going for a ride on the tilt-o-whirl.
All in all, Splittin’ Hares is a soundtrack to the dream life of a disintegrating industrial town in Upstate New York. Lockport is a tiny town on the Erie Canal, that feat of 19th Century engineering, a shipping and manufacturing hub. It’s not just a swansong for a New York town, but for a whole way of life, as factories are shuttered and shipped overseas, and the American psychic landscape is forever changed.
Splittin’ Hares is no bleak trail of tears. They remind us that comedy is the other face of tragedy, and existential wanderings are interspersed with rough humor, like on “Masturbation Song”. They bring to mind the sharp-edged, cynical hilarity of Devo, The Butthole Surfers, and The Dead Milkmen.
Splittin’ Hares is some damn fine, fried psychedelic rock, with nearly every song featuring a flying, searing guitar solo. 2Rabbit temper their incense-soaked, lava lamp meditations with speed and fury, rooting the stratospheric guitar in pyroclastic bass guitar, from Marc Pietrzykowski, and diamond-precise drumming from Rob Swift. 2Rabbit’s Cosmic Boogie gives way to furious, crushing stoner grooves, played with a post-punk minimalist perfection and soaked in caustic wit.
2Rabbit remind us of when Rock ‘n Roll was a rebellion, and not some lifestyle accessory. They offer us an alternative to manipulative music industry machinery, that creates The Next Big Thing overnight, and drops them like a dirty sock, just as quickly. They are a REAL BAND, coming from a small, eccentric, and creative scene in Lockport, like Seattle in the early ’90s, before anyone was looking.
2Rabbit’s bassist, Marc Pietrzykowski, reached out to me, to help spread the word about his various music projects. I am delighted to further the cause of authentic, subversive rock ‘n roll. We are still starry-eyed idealists, and believe that r’n’r is the soundtrack of Rintrah roaring in the wilderness, but he’s heading for the town centre, smashing bureaucracies and hypocrites along the way, and having a great time!
Any help anyone could give in spreading the word on 2Rabbit and their sister band Pants & The Family, who i’m reviewing tomorrow, would be hugely appreciated. Like ’em on Facebook, spread some links, drop a track on a mixtape or a podcast, or EVEN BETTER, buy a copy on bandcamp, and you will make an evil wizard and a couple of rabbits very happy indeed! If you do post something, it’d be cool if you let us know in the comments.