Chavez: Better Days Will Haunt You

betterdayswillhauntyouFrom the opening minute of their very first single, with a high-pitched dissonant melodic interval in the guitar that makes a 3:00 AM car siren sound appealing, Chavez lets you know they are not going to be an easily digested band. Math rock, angular, dissonant, abrasive…pick your favorite term, Chavez are basically right there in your face with it all. Well, maybe not as fast as what I usually think of as math rock, but everything else, yeah.

I’d never heard of these guys until a few months ago, but apparently they were pretty big during their brief, mid-90’s career. I don’t feel like re-finding the reference, but I swear I read that they sold more than any other Matador artist, which is huge on its own, but especially so for a band I hadn’t heard of.

But those dueling alternate realities, one where Chavez was mega huge and another where there existence hardly registered a blip, converge into this universe where all of their recorded material is out of print and yet survives in a single, two-CD collection released a decade after their last new release was issued. It’s all here, that debut 7-inch, both of their LPs, the two songs from their EP that aren’t also on one of the LP’s, and some outtakes and contributions to compilations. It’s 28 tracks of odd time signatures, quiet-loud distorted guitars and vocals, and abstruse lyrics. It’s great, but if that opening fire alarm makes you think you can’t make it through 28 tracks, my advice is to start with track 14, a wonderful cover of Schoolhouse Rock‘s “Little 12 Toes” and then go on to tracks 15-26, which constitute their 1996 album Ride The Fader, which is easily the crown jewel of their discography.

I generally like everything else here, but Ride The Fader is where everything came together for these guys, where their great riffs became incredible sections and their tracks became honest-to-goodness songs that you want to hear over and over and can’t get out of your head. Some of the tracks would even be rated higher if they hadn’t included non-sequitur sound effects at their beginnings and ends, but, fine, in 1996 bands were still going for that start-to-finish album thing. I get it. And I’m really glad I finally heard of these guys, even if it was 20 years too late.

(Oh, also, Shudder To Think. There are places where they are very reminiscent of that band, though I’m not sure reminiscent is the right word since they were contemporaries.)

Rating:
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Mix: “Little 12 Toes,” “The Guard Attacks”
Love: “You Must Be Stopped”
Really Like: “Repeat The Ending,” “Break Up Your Band,” “The Ghost By The Sea,” “You Faded,” “Top Pocket Man,” “Unreal Is Here,” “New Room,” “Our Boys Will Shine Tonight,” “Memorize This Face,” “Cold Joys,” “Flight 96,” “Ever Overpsyched,” “White Jeans”
Like: “Hack Away The Sides,” “Nailed To The Blank Spot,” “Laugh Track,” “Pentagram Ring,” “Peeled Out Too Late,” “The Flaming Gong,” “Wakeman’s Air,” “Relaxed Fit,” “Tight Around The Jaws,” “Lions”
Meh: “The Nerve,” “Theme From ‘For Russ'”
Song Notes: After the jump Continue reading

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