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Touchers - The Underwater Fascist

  by Paul Raven

published: 7 / 5 / 2007

Touchers - The Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seejang Records
Format: CD


Confusing, but compelling mish-mash of country-blues-rock on second album from Montana-based group the Touchers

I'm really not sure what to make of this album at all. Just when I've decided The Touchers are dead serious, they drop a line that makes me decide the whole thing is one monster piss-take of the alt-country scene. Then, once I've settled into that attitude, they come back all serious again. Maybe it's not my fault. According to the press release Ben Spangler, the band's founder, is "an admitted sufferer of bipolar disorder", and while it's a cheap and easy generalisation to make, there's more than a hint of the Jekyll and Hyde about 'The Underwater Fascist'. The sound is a country-blues-rock mish-mash, very reminiscent of some of the weirder tracks from the golden era of the Pixies. Spangler's vocal delivery, flipping from stoned kookiness to screeching belligerence between one line and the next, also evokes the memory of Frank Black. It's not a carbon copy, but the similarities become more striking the more I think about it. Somewhat at odds with the slightly comedic country style of the music is the rather dark and sinister lyrical content. I can't make it all out, but the booklet in the CD case supplies me with some nuggets – along with a barrage of collage, an array of bizarre and provocative images from Hitler Youth-ettes to one-eyed mutant kittens. The lyrics do the same thing - juxtaposing the weird, the cruel and the quirky to create a continual sense of "what the fuck?" that lasts through multiple listens. Lyrics about love suddenly turn into rants about overdoses and icepicks, or diatribes that rail against affluent yuppie conformity. It's disturbing and fascinating at once, like the site of a nasty road accident. I'll be honest; the first time I listened through this album, I thought I hated it. Since then I've listened to it five more times, and every listen has found me noticing something new. I'm still not sure that I *like* it, but like is a weak word at the best of times. What I can say for certain is that there's something very compelling about it, a deceptive simplicity that peels away like the layers of an onion to reveal increasing levels of depth. Maybe if I listen to it once more, I'll be able to decide ...

Track Listing:-
1 Aphrodite Has Gone Mad
2 Vivian
3 Do the New Plague, Babe
4 Country Killer
5 The Mattress Song
6 Not Right in the Head
7 77
8 February 22nd 1975
9 Two Shit Icepick
10 Brain
11 Michigan
12 There's the Rub
13 Fire When Ready

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