Anyone with a taste for Squid Pisser’s brand of whacked-out noise punk will likely be reminded of the Locust’s Infest-by-way-of-the-B-52’s genre concoction. And while that comparison might be slightly reductive, the similarities are definitely there: grinding guitars, blasts of synths ripped from a Cold War-era sci-fi B-movie, wild drum cacophonies, and throat-shredding vocals. Regardless of whether Squid Pisser’s tact was taken as mere flattery or if the group genuinely impressed him, their debut album — My Tadpole Legion — now arrives as a release from Locust bassist Justin Pearson’s label, Three On G Records.
Squid Pisser’s lineup consists of singer-guitarist Tommy Meehan and drummer Seth Carolina, who also play in Deaf Club and Starcrawler, respectively, and the masked duo enlisted their friends — their “tadpole legion,” as it were — to help fill out the gaps left by their sparse lineup. Meghan O’Neil of Punch and Super Unison, John Clardy of Tera Melos, Carolina’s Starcrawler bandmate Arrow DeWilde, Yako of Japanese noise experimentalists Melt-Banana, and others feature on the record, imprinting their particular talents on the album’s math-y hardcore punk blitz.
Squid Pisser nail their weirdo mission statement to the wall with opener “Liquified Remains.” Propelled by Clardy’s drums, the track is an intricate mess of abrupt rhythmic shifts, serpentine guitars, synth squirts, and toward the end, some good old-fashioned punk rock melodic fury. But even as the mangled mathcore gives way to a straightforward moshpit-ready breakdown, the traditional is again subsumed by the eccentric as soon as the next track. On “Violence Forever,” Meghan O’Neil brings her ferocious vocal stylings to an intensely manic song so brimming with nervous anger that it erupts into a double bass thrash metal bridge seemingly out of nowhere.
As previously mentioned, the Locust’s new wave grindcore looms large over Squid Pisser’s artistic sensibilities, but there are shades of Daughters, Arab on Radar, and fellow collaborative-minded punkers the Hirs Collective as well; “The Everlasting Bloat” features screeching vocals that, in particular, recall Hirs’ ghoulish, post-hardcore shrieks. Elsewhere, Yako gives the title track a somewhat quirky edge, her off-kilter delivery echoing Mariko Gotô, the mercurial singer of Japanese jazz-punk outfit Midori. Arrow DeWilde, meanwhile, fronts the band’s cover of “Marching for Trash” (originally by the Crucifucks), her croaked vocals a far cry from the snotty singing with which she graces her main gig’s tunes. The song simmers with rumbling drums and buzzsaw guitars hosed with garbled synthesizers during the verses, punctuated by wild bursts of blast beats, and concluding with a rude (and disgustingly wet-sounding) burp.
Outside of subgenre nuances, My Tadpole Legion‘s white-knuckle gnarliness doesn’t offer a lot of variety. But it does offer strangeness, an aspect sorely missing from most contemporary punk. Scowl’s latest EP flirted with grungy alt-rock, while Turnstile’s Glow On provided the scene with respectable face by leaning into poptimist tropes. Acts like Zulu and Soul Glo, while musically adventurous and not without a sly sense of humor, still play things relatively straight — Zulu’s brutal beatdown parts; Soul Glo’s careening grooves. Squid Pisser, however, seem most concerned with pushing their sound into weird new places, bringing an absurdist musicality to their whiplashed punk experiment. They don’t fully succeed, owing to that pesky long shadow cast by their label boss’ former band. But it’s impossible not to get sucked into the reckless abandon on display here.
As is customary with noise punk like this, My Tadpole Legion wooshes by in a flash, the songs melting into a blur of raging aural violence that is stomped into silence with the abrupt ending of the 30-second “Fuck Your Preacher.” But before things truly draw to a close, Squid Pisser pack in one last prank in the form of “Lord of the Frog”: two minutes and change of nasty, stomach-churning power electronics sludge — all tape hiss, crushed bits, and samples maimed beyond recognition. A fitting end to a beautifully hideous 19 minutes.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 17.