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Todd
Big Ripper Noel Gardner , December 9th, 2009 15:32

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If it was 1995, and The Quietus was a weekly newsstand music publication, it's possible that this third album by London quartet Todd would fall into the reviewing hands of someone giddy with the excitement of shiny-shoes British guitar pop making an hooraying resurgence. How fearsomely outré for a British band to be in thrall to the noisy machismo of American underground rock when The Bluetones have made the sun come out a little longer, they might lament, before concluding their review with a sort of pun, something like "Over-amped and over here. 4/10."

In reality, this period in evolutionary history found Craig Clouse in a couple of bands – Crown Roast from Austin, Texas and Hammerhead from North Dakota – who may be remembered by few outside of the most dusty-lunged nerd-punk vinyl hoarders, but who both offered a forceful, almost sadistic take on the twisted metal and skeletal arrangements that categorised American noiserock/proto-grunge/pigfuck/other genre name of debatable relevance. When Clouse moved to London in the late 90s, his taste for this sort of battery had not evaporated; he assembled Todd in the capital in 2001 and, from 2003-05, released a self-titled EP and two albums that were each a mightier work than the last. Then, having spent four years releasing a few singles, taking a back seat to Clouse's other band Shit&Shine and sort of splitting up, Big Ripper (sleeve adorned with an appropriately incongruous Hanna-Barbera-lookin' lumberjack dude) just dropped doodlebug style and the second wave of Britpop got totally mangled under some rubble. I think. I didn't hear any today anyway. So yeah, that's why Todd sound like an American band.

The CD, at least the copy I have here, is mixed at an oddly low volume – the unfailing muddiness of the murk lets you know that everything was in the red at some point, but you really do have to wrench it up to get Big Ripper going at a Todd-justifying volume. (Maybe it's on some level a suggestion that you should be buying the vinyl, like how Big Black's Songs About Fucking not only sounds like pish in digital form but has a message hinting at such printed on the CD itself.) This niggle attended to, Todd are as smoggy and unfettered as you could wish them to be. Overall, it's perhaps les formally experimentalist than 2005's Todd Comes To Your House, but even if it's all within the recognizable remits of guitarbassdrumsvocals, it sounds like the work of a band breaking for the border, even if they have to headbutt a lot of wire fences in the process.

'Between Them Two Roundabouts' canters along with a deathly r'n'r rattle, as if they lured Jerry Lee Lewis into the studio with the promise of a chicken dinner and a racist snuff movie to watch; Clouse's vocals, behind-the-door muffled as they are, are in the grand incomprehensible tradition of David Yow, as well as lesser known lights of American basement noise like Drunks With Guns and Today Is The Day (before they became a de facto metal band). 'Best Laid Plans' is their most faithful crack at the dragging, drugged Southern sludge/doom exemplified by Eyehategod, Sourvein and such; 'Hard Life' is commendably OTT, jam-like-no-one's-listening rock onanism that honours the flame of Blue Cheer's dear departed Dickie Petersen and self-destructively stares into strobes a la Comets On Fire circa Field Recordings From The Sun. It only lasts four and a bit minutes, but you could imagine yourself lost in it for considerably longer.

Todd are a band of evident humour (do look at that sleeve again, won't you), but you'd be forgiven for this not colouring your listening experience, which is likely to be oppressive and immersive. Sometimes there's no pleasure at the business end of the irritation, like the point-free lo-fi noodling within 'The (R)wub'. Mostly, the album is as cleansing as Wright's Coal Tar Soap, and notable for being constructed from similar filth.

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Paul Taggart
Dec 9, 2009 10:37pm

That album art is some funky stuff

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James Hinchcliffe
Dec 22, 2009 10:23pm

I saw these guys play in Salford earlier this year. They made a pretty good racket but the singer was a real dick. Kept attacking people in the crowd, not just near the front, turned the place into a bit of a combat zone. He'll doubtless say it's all "in the name of rock n' roll" but he needed a twatting really.

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