When you have a band or an artist who is strange, surreal, avant-garde, twisted, and mind-blowing, you think of; Swans, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, The Residents, The Deviants, and the Krautrock group, Faust. And there is one band, a duo, which is following in the footsteps of the six and that is The Chewers. Coming from West Virginia, the duo considers Travis Caffrey and Michael Sadler who according to their bio on their website, live in the hills of the Backwoods and wounded up in Nashville.
They have this weird concept of Deadpan Humor, bizarre time signatures, instruments that have the avant-rock and bluesy twist that works perfectly and it almost feels like they were left off the sessions for Trout Mask Replica and The Faust Tapes. That and their second album, Chuckle Change and Also, offers a huge middle finger to the commercial music industry and the reality shows, that is wildly weird and strangely strange, but it makes perfect sense from beginning, middle, and end.
Now while the title sounds like something straight out of a 1930s Three Stooges short, the out of the blue monotone’s, dystopian views of the business, muddy swamp-rock orientations that has a ‘60s feel, sinister overtones with a humoristic feel, and nightmarish sounds coming at you to give you a leap from your comfy listener’s chair. For example on Down There, it feels as if you are inside the asylum and imagine, if you will, Alvin from Alvin and The Chipmunks, wearing a strait-jacket, locked up in the mental institute, with these voices in his head, and going insane featuring a doomy atmospheric sound, is staggering!
The chaotic twists of: Burn it Down, Steam, A Part Machine, and The Fat Man has these crunchy bluesy guitar haywire effect that are pounding, resembling to the post-punk sound of the late ‘70s, and shuffling creaking that will make you to take notes. The fuzzing bass, saw-hypnotic squishing effects on the keyboard, and robotic voices on Techno-Slaves, is their take on House music while the homage to the Magic Band comes in full swing on the free-jazz marching sing-along song between bass drum, bass, piano, and almost a violin in the wings with Smiling Samuel.
Then, there’s the 6-minute terrifying eerie yet almost Twilight Zone story about a disturbing man who is suffering from a nervous breakdown and his obsession with Rats on Tornado of Stasis. It has this combination of a loud bass, dissonant piano chords, mellowing drum line with 4/4 time signature, makes you get the goosebumps and shivers down your spine.
Then on Funnel Head, they go into the Punk Rock punch with a fast ¾ beat with double vocals with a slowed down beat and hypnotic guitar work as the robotic voice comes in dealing with the issues of the massive big corporations with the with a nice homage to CAN’s Ege Bamyasi with a nice homage to the sound of the late Michael Karoli’s guitar lines as an homage that Travis does on Burn it Down.
I have listened to Chuckle Change and Also about four times now and its not an easy album to listen to. Now do I hate it? No, this is bizarre yet mind-boggling adventure that you are going to embark on when you listen to The Chewers’ music. A must have for anyone who’s into the Post-Punk, Avant-Rock and Krautrock sounds of the ‘70s.