Year of the Pig
This is where the unrepentant hack that I am wants to type out something along the lines of “This Canadian collective’s latest outing, a fusion, of hardcore, stoner rock, jazz and whatever the fuck else, is truly fucked up.”
Seriously, ask any of the editors I’ve ever worked for and they’ll tell you I’m congenitally unable to let a bad pun go unwritten (Rob, feel free to drop a comment and testify). But I’m gonna rise above this time.
And rise above indeed, because like punk experimentalists Black Flag, Fucked Up aren’t content to paint hardcore black by the numbers, instead they insist on dragging an often stagnant and repetitive genre forward by sheer force of will by paradoxically channeling forward thinking greats Wire, Television and Gang of Four.
Year of the Pig, finally out on CD following last year’s vinyl only release, offers you just that, four different takes on the titular song and a handful of other tunes for good measure in a 44 minute outing that leaves no genre bridged uncrossed-over and burnt. The first stab at “Year of the Pig” may have you wondering if you popped in the latest 27 disc by mistake with whispery Maria Christopher vocals wafting through scintillating guitar lines before the more accustomed hardcore bark chews its way through for the remainder of the near-19 minute workout. That is until the completely raging midsection kicks in somewhere around the eight minute mark and decides to swirl rock rage and ringing Neurosis notes into a hellbroth of seething angst and pumping Flashdance bass. Those maniacs.
But you also get three other edits of the song, one that reduces the tune to its soft, whispery elements, another that bounces along with its jazzy bassline and gravelly vocals at the fore and the final leaning heavily on staccato piano lines and more of the dance floor worthy bass pumping.
The remaining, and by far shorter, songs more faithfully channel ’80s SoCal hardcore-via-Canada’s ill tempered (frost)bite for those looking for something a little more toe tapping and pedestrian. Hell, “Anorak City” is damn near surf rock poppy with its strident guitars and shuffling beat, marred only by the belted hardcore vocals.
But if you’ve got an open mind and eschew overrated the simplicity of Damaged in favor of In My Head’s wider tonal palette, skipping out on this boundary pushing bunch wouldn’t just be a mistake; it would be fucked up.