This Moment In Black History’s Midwesterncuttalistick begins with a series of guitar-scraping clangs that immediately grabs your attention. Seventeen tracks later, they’re still clanging away, although it’s hard to remember what happened in between.
Such is the crux of this Cleveland, Ohio-based band’s debut. Led by the onslaught of howler Christopher Kulcsar (with additional vocals by guitarist Buddy Akita and bassist Mike D’Amico), Black History slams (“Beans And Rice,” “Last Unicorn”), butchers (“Paint Me A Picture,” “Progress (For Real),” “Art Project”) and rocks out (“Are Lipps Our Inc.,” “Coupon: The Movie”) for most of the set. These tracks are good — some are even great — but trying to pick them out of the pureed mess that is Midwesterncuttalistick is an experiment in both tone and patience. And with few distinguishable rewards (“Double Gemini,” the hazy “Tony, You Owe Me”), it’s often a painful one.
With their roots in ragged garage and low-fi punk rock, Black History applies a stop-start rollercoaster method to most of the songs here, though the emphasis is clearly on the “start” portion of this approach. There’s plenty of going and not much pausing, save for a few odd interludes, which range from bits of leftfield jam sessions to salsa-flavored Moog work. Melody, however, goes completely unexplored. Nothing you’ll remember tomorrow, and Black History ring tones won’t be much of a seller this fall. That said, there’s a lot to hear but very little you can actually listen to.
The best audio picture of this is to imagine a Hives/Libertines mash-up. Instead of assembling a Frankenband, with the lows of one group replaced by the highs of the other, think of both playing side-by-side in a frantic meltdown where tune and structure get sledgehammered by speed and shrill. Instruments are played not for their sound but for their force, and vocals will not be sung, only yelled. “That’s that Black History sound,” you’ll say. Assuming you stuck around long enough to find out.