Rarely does an album come along that is so genuinely god awful it prompts you to check whether or not the CD player has broken because you can’t quite bring yourself to believe that anything sounding quite so bad could have possibly have fooled a record company into releasing it. Not even when the record company is run by one of the band.
I promise you, Tooth and Claw by Our Brother the Native genuinely is that bad. It has no redeeming features whatsoever, from its scribbled sleeve artwork to its incomprehensible and meaningless song titles to the squalling cacophony of mistuned radio samples and sequencer twiddles that starts with track one and doesn’t let up until 12 tracks later, by which time you’ll either be tearing out your hair and sticking red hot pokers in your ears or doing something else entirely because, as you don’t have to review it, you probably won’t have bothered to listen all the way through to the end of the bloody thing.
It’s not as if the writing isn’t on the wall. Our Brother The Native are three American 16-18 year olds (John-Michael Foss, Joshua Bertram and Chazz Knapp) who hadn’t actually performed together in person at the time this album was recorded, conducting the whole project via the internet and email. Yes kids, this is three internet nerds trying to show how clever they are with their ‘experimental’ electronic music, and – ooh look – they’ve even given Latin names to most of the tracks to prove their superior intelligence. Gosh darn ’em.
Their biographies make them sound like the worst kind of perfect-toothed, middle American preppies who do their homework and respect their parents: piano lessons at seven years of age, terribly proud of their school band credentials. Apparently, one of them is currently studying percussion at the University of Michigan, where presumably he’s way too far up his own arse to listen to a damn thing he’s being taught about composition, melody or tunes. If they think they’re being experimental, they’re only ‘breaking the rules’ because they can’t possibly have a clue what any of the rules are.
No one who had even a modicum of musical understanding could inflict this racket on the ears of the innocent. Josh’s music teacher mum, who helped them out with vocals towards the end (after all, god knows they needed some help), should have slapped them rather than encourage them. Really, corporal punishment is no more than they deserve.
If any of is making you think ‘golly, it sounds so bad it must be really good. I’ll go out and buy it now! ‘ Please, please don’t. You’ll waste your money and, even worse, you may just encourage them to do it all over again. It’s much better that this album is a crashing flop, they end up bitter and twisted and rueing the ‘moronic’ music industry which just isn’t clever enough to understand them. Just mistune your radio a few hertz, torture the cat and then hit it with a keyboard a few times. The effect will be just the same and you’ll still have a few quid in your pocket. You’ll thank me for it in the long run.