A horrible hack

Schwulle Nuttenbullen

Die Deutschrocknacht

Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Spastic Fantastic - Phantom
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Jun 3, 2016
This is SCHWULE NUTTENBULLEN's first and probably last LP, and it has me hoping that their breakup last year leads to reconfigurations and new bands, because they're onto something interesting here. "Die Deutschrocknacht" is a spiky, thoughtful record that repeatedly confounds expectations and evades cliché, delivered from behind a clown mask of a band name.*

"Dein Deutschland" is a statement of intent at the head of side A in more ways than one, a song with an unambiguous political message, yet delivered in subversive tones that you only fully absorb after a listen to the whole record. It's couched in daydreaming guitar strumming and spare rim shot percussion, poetic but firm lyrics delivered by the female vocalist of the group. "Weißblech aus Deutschland / Maschinen, Metalle / Wachstum und Strategie / auf Kosten / deiner Biographie. / Dein Deutschland / Scheiß Deutschland." (Tinplate from Germany / machines, metals / growth and cost strategy / your biography. / Your Germany / shit Germany.) A song all the more powerful for being delivered with a hint of detachment rather than the sound and fury I might have expected.

However, before too long SNB are showing us a more orthodox punk sound. Each side of the LP contains a good chunky block of fast songs, likely very danceable live. "Erdogan" joins simple, circular chord structures with a nervy energy and a lyric that damns Turkish president Erdogan's regime and Western lack of reaction to it. The male vocalist has taken over for this one, in a high, half-desperate tone, perched at an awkward edge of his register - he's refreshingly unconcerned with sounding tough. "3000 Schneeberge" has a bright, summery indie-rock riff scuzzed up at its core, yet with more oblique, serious lyrics which could be about, for example, the burning of an asylum-seeker hostel. "Es hat die ganze Nacht gebrannt. Gesichter mit Fackeln gegen Unbekannt. / Innenstadt in Binnenland, ganz weit weg vom Tellerrand." "(t burned all night. Faces with torches against the unknown. / Downtown, inland, far away from mixing with strangers.") This last bit being difficult to translate, the "Tellerrand" being the metaphorical edge of a plate from where you could look over the top, rather than the sunken, isolated centre. The sentiment has a pointed elegance that reminds me of later period FUGAZI. And in a move not a million miles away from something you might find on "The Argument", "Drones over America" ends the side in sprawling, melancholy punk-dub style, clipped rhythms, hi-hat pulsing and interlocking bass/drums.

Side 2 jumps into action with the stop-start, aphoristic "Ausschuss" and even ratchets things up a couple of notches with the catchiest songs in the set, "Standards" and the cheerful "Solo für Zwei." The rollicking chorus of "Bastards / Bastards / setzen die Standards" is probably the best hook in the bunch. There are a few less successful tunes towards the end, like "Alle Blickrichtungen," "Gorilla," and the throwaway, thrashy self-parody "SNB." I would have preferred for the more substantial "Ich bin ein T-Shirt" to end the LP, with its dual guitars like a scrappier TELEVISION. Its lyrics seem to condemn the rose-tinted legend-building of the early years of punk. "Geschichten 1000mal erzählt / 1980? Falsch, verwählt" - "Stories told a thousand times / 1980? Wrong number."

I have a hunch that this is one of those records that captures band members pulling in different directions, just before their differences become irreconcilable. It has that sense of tension, stylistic fracture and end-of-the-rope frankness which here makes for an unpredictable and rewarding listen. I'll be following their next moves to see what comes out of the breakup.

* it means "gay hooker cops"

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